Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why grow?

I’m not normally given to book reviews or book recommendations but in todays connected world a tweet led me to a blog entry on Peldi’s site which piqued my interest in a book and resulted in a lost afternoon staring at my Kindle.

The book in question was ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson over at 37signals.

Throughout my working life I’ve found the corporate environment a frustrating place.  Full of policy, bureaucracy, politics and working practices that don’t work.  And we never learn.  It’s the same wherever you go.

The first time I really came across a company which said “no” to all of this was when I read about Balsamiq. This was a company which wanted to stay small and was happy to say just that.  It was happy producing great products which people really wanted to use.  It prided itself on customer support and wouldn’t be afraid to say “sorry” if it messed up.

This was all wrong.  You have to grow, look bigger than you are, generate more money, put processes in place, use support ticketing systems, out-feature the competition, keep revenue information secret, never publish plans, don’t interact directly with the customer and never admit when you’ve messed up.  In short you had to go corporate.

What a load of garbage.

I have no desire to be a huge company.  I WANT to be able to talk to my customers, to hear what they’re saying and to answer them myself.  I DON’T WANT to become mired in process or policy, to stifle innovation by killing the desire to think for yourself, to have layer upon layer of management, to spend endless hours in meetings only to end up working late so that I can actually get some work done.

In short, I want to work at a small company which thinks on it’s feet, doesn’t need deadlines, delivers great customer support, tries to give something back, where leaving at 5pm is the norm rather than the exception and where having a life outside work is not only allowed but applauded.

ReWork tells me this is ok.  That it’s fine to be a small company, that I don’t need the corporate scars called policies, that it’s ok to have a geographically distant employee, that I don’t need to work 24/7 and that connecting with my customers is a good thing.

I take one of my many hats off to Jason and David for writing and publishing a book which should be required reading for any aspiring Micro-ISV’er.


Smart Company Softwarr said...

So true. MicroISVs start because people don't like working for bigger organizations, so why create something that you know you wouldn't like to work at. I'm not saying all big organizations are bad, but in my experience companies larger than 30 employees lose that family feeling.

Patrick said...

Even big organisations weren't always as bad.

I do a lot of work for banks and years ago (many years) they were far better to work for - less constrained, more customer focused, able to make quick decisions and ready to try things to see if they worked.

Now it's all about risk mitigation, strategic decisions, policy, process and shareholder benefit.

Somewhere along the line they lost the ability to be creative with their IT.