Book Review: It Doesn't Have To Be Crazy At Work

David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried of Basecamp and Signal v. Noise lay out how they achieve calm at Basecamp and how other companies can make the choice to do the same.

They point to the long hours, stolen weekends and barbed perks that run rampant in tech and say “it doesn’t have to be this way!”

Growth at all costs. Companies that demand the world of your time, and then steal it away with meetings and interruptions. Companies that coerce or bribe you to spend most of your waking hours with your nose to the grindstone (because after all, this company is like a family, right?)

It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work discusses these problems and proposes a better way of doing things. DHH and Jason Fried discuss the solutions they’ve found to work at Basecamp, tackling issues from big picture ambitions to lower level project management, and from hiring to perks and payroll. They discuss the solutions that they have found work for them at Basecamp, but make no decrees as to how your company ought to be run. That’s for you to iterate on with your own team.

Most of the stuff I have read about taming work feels very prescriptive. Do this. Do that. Try these processes. Add enough kanban boards and everything will click into place and you will finally be able to breathe. It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work takes the opposite approach and encourages you to look at the things that you don’t need to do. Make time for the important things by stripping away the inessential.

It’s a pretty short read, and worth a look for anyone who feels like work is a little too hectic.

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