Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, shares his unique approach to creating a productive work environment, including how he eliminates meetings and creates autonomous teams.
Product managers are busy. You wear many hats and have to execute a range of aspects of building and launching products. This includes meeting with key stakeholders, answering questions about feature requirements and delivery timelines, and creating reports. With all these requests on your time, it’s easy run out of time to do “actual” product management work.
As Jason discusses in this episode, when you don’t have time to work, you end up working more hours. At some companies, 50, 60, or even 70-hour work-weeks are the norm. Work then begins to cut into your personal life, which can be harmful to your health, happiness and productivity.
As the CEO of Basecamp, Jason works to create a productive – and sane! – work environment, and after 18 years in business, he’s learned what works.
Meetings are one of the most common time-consumers and productivity killers for product managers. If you have five people in a one-hour meeting, you’ve just used five hours of collective work time, Jason says. In addition, you need to synchronize the meeting with everyone’s schedule, and there’s often dead time before and after the meeting.
Jason has found that discussions rarely need to be done with everyone in the same location at the same time. Answers to questions can usually wait, and can be done in writing when people have the time and attention for it. Asynchronous written communication saves his team time and reduces interruption.
Eliminating meetings isn’t the only strategy Jason has deployed to run what he describes as a “simpler and free-er” business. For example, Jason creates small teams and trusts them to make decisions and work autonomously. Listen to this episode to learn the other practices that help the team at Basecamp stay productive without working more than 40 hours per week.
Here are the highlights:
- Jason describes what most commonly prevents teams from getting things done (4:30)
- How Basecamp became more productive after eliminating meetings (6:25)
- Basecamp’s strategy for managing work schedules and communication with remote employees (9:50)
- How Basecamp reduces interdependencies between teams (13:20)
- The skillsets and personality required to be successful in this work environment (16:15)
- How individuals can be more productive in their company’s work environment (18:30)