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Signal v. Noise

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the world needs more modest, linear growth companies. please make some.

14 years of linear growth at basecamp.exponential growth gets all the glory. every startup story that lands on the cover of a magazine has a hockey-stick chart to flaunt. yes, disruption is driven by such violent expansion, and the world needs some disruption some of the time. but for the other 360 days out of the year, what it also needs is some modest, linear growth.linear growth is what happens in domains that aren’t animated by network effects (and when no artificial growth hormones are injected!). it’s the simplicity of good products sold at reasonable prices that find happy customers. these customers talk to friends and colleagues in other businesses, and over time that word of mouth spreads the good vibes, which turns the business up.but the limelight has no patience with such s...





improved schedule cards – signal v. noise

this was a classic case of “how hard could it be?” that started as a series of customer requests and bug reports. people wanted to see their events and their dated to-dos on their basecamp 3 schedule cards. totally reasonable, right? like anything involving dates, timezones, and computers, it took more than a little wrangling… but now you can!let there be to-doshere’s a great example from our ops team. before, we only showed upcoming schedule events. that triggered a misleading message that said “nothing’s coming up!”nothing’s coming up! maybe?why is this misleading? if you click through to the schedule itself, you’ll see there’s actually a to-do due tomorrow:surpise!you wouldn’t have known that glancing at the schedule card. with the changes we just added, you’ll ...





improved schedule cards – signal v. noise

this was a classic case of “how hard could it be?” that started as a series of customer requests and bug reports. people wanted to see their events and their dated to-dos on their basecamp 3 schedule cards. totally reasonable, right? like anything involving dates, timezones, and computers, it took more than a little wrangling… but now you can!let there be to-doshere’s a great example from our ops team. before, we only showed upcoming schedule events. that triggered a misleading message that said “nothing’s coming up!”nothing’s coming up! maybe?why is this misleading? if you click through to the schedule itself, you’ll see there’s actually a to-do due tomorrow:surpise!you wouldn’t have known that glancing at the schedule card. with the changes we just added, you’ll ...





improved schedule cards – signal v. noise

this was a classic case of “how hard could it be?” that started as a series of customer requests and bug reports. people wanted to see their events and their dated to-dos on their basecamp 3 schedule cards. totally reasonable, right? like anything involving dates, timezones, and computers, it took more than a little wrangling… but now you can!let there be to-doshere’s a great example from our ops team. before, we only showed upcoming schedule events. that triggered a misleading message that said “nothing’s coming up!”nothing’s coming up! maybe?why is this misleading? if you click through to the schedule itself, you’ll see there’s actually a to-do due tomorrow:surpise!you wouldn’t have known that glancing at the schedule card. with the changes we just added, you’ll ...





conflicts are rarely just about the cards on the table

most disagreements aren’t just about the cards on the table. they’re just as much about who’s at the table. what time the game is being played. the last fifty games before this one. and about all the other people the current participants ever played with as well.so it’s no wonder the game ends up making little sense to folks who think everything they need to know to make the winning argument is reading the cards facing up.one good way to tell how much a conflict is about those cards, or about something else, is to gauge the temperature of the tone. if it’s unreasonably, disproportionately hot, then it’s probably not just about the current specifics. there are very few specific situations and details that’ll make people hit the red zone on the account of those alone.people get...





cultivating an inclusive culture – signal v. noise

reconsider diversitythe typical approach to diversity in corporate environments can usually be summed up in two ways: lazy and superficial.to be fair, diversity is a difficult word to put into action. most attempts to do so will probably end up feeling superficial. for example, companies often ironically state that they’re “committed to diversity” when the word itself is pretty noncommittal. the ambiguous nature of diversity means it can be interpreted in a number of different ways.that laxity is an allowance for laziness. initiatives based on diversity are notorious for having vague, or non-existent, standards and accountability. diversity has become a clichéd ideal versus an agent for change.diversity is a difficult word to put into action.attempts to execute diversity in a more ...





web design advice – signal v. noise

brandon wu sent me this awesome site called markd. he’s received nice organic traction with it so far because it ranked well on product hunt.brandon, you’ve gotten a ton further than a lot of people do by getting an idea out there into the world. clearly people are using it and it fits a need people have. so a huge congratulations!these are just some things that i’d experiment with if it were my project.social proofone of the first things that stands out to me about the site is “where are the testimonials!?” there are a bunch of people saying nice things about this tool already on places like product hunt:this is something i see over and over again. on product sites or portfolios sites, even resumes. there’s no social proof. and it’s so easy to fix.there’s people saying nic...





web design advice – signal v. noise

brandon wu sent me this awesome site called markd. he’s received nice organic traction with it so far because it ranked well on product hunt.brandon, you’ve gotten a ton further than a lot of people do by getting an idea out there into the world. clearly people are using it and it fits a need people have. so a huge congratulations!these are just some things that i’d experiment with if it were my project.social proofone of the first things that stands out to me about the site is “where are the testimonials!?” there are a bunch of people saying nice things about this tool already on places like product hunt:this is something i see over and over again. on product sites or portfolios sites, even resumes. there’s no social proof. and it’s so easy to fix.there’s people saying nic...





interruption is not collaboration – signal v. noise

what’s happening?hey, are you busy? can you listen to this real quick? it’s an episode about interruptions in the workplace. you’ll hear from academic researchers, basecamp’s head data wrangler, and the ceo of a remote company about how they’ve tackled not just the disruptions themselves, but also the workplace culture that allows those intrusions to flourish.





interruption is not collaboration – signal v. noise

what’s happening?hey, are you busy? can you listen to this real quick? it’s an episode about interruptions in the workplace. you’ll hear from academic researchers, basecamp’s head data wrangler, and the ceo of a remote company about how they’ve tackled not just the disruptions themselves, but also the workplace culture that allows those intrusions to flourish.





social support – signal v. noise

things remarkably changed when everyone descended upon the hospital to join my mom, father and me. my sister came into town with her boyfriend and my niece. my sister’s best friend showed up for multiple visits and help. my wife grabbed my daughter and all our pets and moved them over to my parents place. even a great friend of mine came and spent a couple hours visiting my father and eating some mcdonalds in his hospital room for dinner with us.despite all the upsetting and scary things we were now dealing with, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me when all these people showed up.it just goes to show you how important it is that no matter what you’re going through. if it’s work or career stuff, or these moments in our personal lives, it’s important to experience them ...





social support – signal v. noise

things remarkably changed when everyone descended upon the hospital to join my mom, father and me. my sister came into town with her boyfriend and my niece. my sister’s best friend showed up for multiple visits and help. my wife grabbed my daughter and all our pets and moved them over to my parents place. even a great friend of mine came and spent a couple hours visiting my father and eating some mcdonalds in his hospital room for dinner with us.despite all the upsetting and scary things we were now dealing with, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me when all these people showed up.it just goes to show you how important it is that no matter what you’re going through. if it’s work or career stuff, or these moments in our personal lives, it’s important to experience them ...





interruption is not collaboration – signal v. noise

what’s happening?hey, are you busy? can you listen to this real quick? it’s an episode about interruptions in the workplace. you’ll hear from academic researchers, basecamp’s head data wrangler, and the ceo of a remote company about how they’ve tackled not just the disruptions themselves, but also the workplace culture that allows those intrusions to flourish.





outlasting – signal v. noise

you in business? what are you doing to last? not to grow. not to gain. not to take. not to win. but to last?i wouldn’t advocate spending much time worrying about the competition — you really shouldn’t waste attention worrying about things you can’t control — but if it helps make the point relatable, the best way to beat the competition is to last longer than they do.duh? yes, duh. exactly. business is duh simple as long as you don’t make it duhking complicated.so how do you last?obviously you need to take in enough revenue to pay your bills. but we’ve always tried to reverse that statement: how many bills do you need to pay to limit your revenue requirements?rather than thinking about how much you need to make to cover your costs, think about how little you need to he...





the world needs more modest, linear growth companies. please make some.

14 years of linear growth at basecamp.exponential growth gets all the glory. every startup story that lands on the cover of a magazine has a hockey-stick chart to flaunt. yes, disruption is driven by such violent expansion, and the world needs some disruption some of the time. but for the other 360 days out of the year, what it also needs is some modest, linear growth.linear growth is what happens in domains that aren’t animated by network effects (and when no artificial growth hormones are injected!). it’s the simplicity of good products sold at reasonable prices that find happy customers. these customers talk to friends and colleagues in other businesses, and over time that word of mouth spreads the good vibes, which turns the business up.but the limelight has no patience with such s...





outlasting – signal v. noise

you in business? what are you doing to last? not to grow. not to gain. not to take. not to win. but to last?i wouldn’t advocate spending much time worrying about the competition — you really shouldn’t waste attention worrying about things you can’t control — but if it helps make the point relatable, the best way to beat the competition is to last longer than they do.duh? yes, duh. exactly. business is duh simple as long as you don’t make it duhking complicated.so how do you last?obviously you need to take in enough revenue to pay your bills. but we’ve always tried to reverse that statement: how many bills do you need to pay to limit your revenue requirements?rather than thinking about how much you need to make to cover your costs, think about how little you need to he...





the 8 best questions to put on your next one-on-one meeting agenda

#1: how’s life?on the surface, this doesn’t seem like a significant question to ask. after all, some managers default to asking this question as a crutch when they’re not sure how to open up a one-on-one meeting. however, this question can be actually quite powerful, if you can embrace a greater intention behind it: to build trust. when asked, most watercooler members agreed on the importance of having trust and a strong personal rapport going into the one-on-one. the more you know about a coworker’s dreams, hobbies, pets, children’s names, etc., the greater the sense of trust is. and the greater the trust, the easier a tough conversation is. as a result, many managers from thewatercooler kick off their one-on-one with a “get-know-you” question like, “how’s life?” or ?...





done? – signal v. noise

a few weeks ago, i took my daughter to the art institute here in chicago. she’s three.so as you can imagine it wasn’t a tremendous success of actually seeing a ton of art. we had a lot of fun though doing crafts they had set up for kids and eating lunch.my proudest moment was when she yelled out “i really like that picture!” it was vincent van gogh’s the bedroom. it’s my favorite too.there’s an interesting exercise you can do at the art institute or other major art museums. go find some picassos and note how old he was when he made them. now find some cézannes and do the same.it’s possible you spot something like economics professor at the university of chicago, david galenson did.picasso’s most valuable work, based on prices paid at auction, peaked when he was 25.cézan...





done? – signal v. noise

a few weeks ago, i took my daughter to the art institute here in chicago. she’s three.so as you can imagine it wasn’t a tremendous success of actually seeing a ton of art. we had a lot of fun though doing crafts they had set up for kids and eating lunch.my proudest moment was when she yelled out “i really like that picture!” it was vincent van gogh’s the bedroom. it’s my favorite too.there’s an interesting exercise you can do at the art institute or other major art museums. go find some picassos and note how old he was when he made them. now find some cézannes and do the same.it’s possible you spot something like economics professor at the university of chicago, david galenson did.picasso’s most valuable work, based on prices paid at auction, peaked when he was 25.cézan...





decide who gets notified when completing a to-do

to-dos in basecamp are pretty straightforward. at a glance, you can see who’s responsible, when it’s due, and important details you might need to know:unfortunately, it’s never been clear who will get notified when you complete a to-do. that made it hard to pass the baton to a coworker or tap your manager on the shoulder when you’ve wrapped things up.sure, you could hack things together by @mentioning someone in the notes field or by subscribing them to comments. but if you just want to be sure someone knows when you’re done, you shouldn’t have to jump through hacky hoops to do it.say goodbye to hacksnow, when you make a to-do in basecamp, you’ll see a new field labeled when done, notify. add people you want to notify when the to-do is completed and basecamp will be sure to ...