Back to Basics with Jason Fried
In 2004, a new project management application called Basecamp was launched by a company called 37signals. It was the first web-based PM tool that inspired, encouraged or started other similar applications. The company that developed and launched the application got its name from radio telescope signals identified by the astronomer who plays a major role in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In contrast, the company co-founded by Jason Fried was really deep in search of something nearer to home, which is the better way of how people can work.
Introducing Jason Fried
Jason Fried, along with Carlos Segura and Ernest Kim, founded 37signals in Chicago in 1999 as a web design firm. In 2004, Jason was the only founder left with the company which has transformed its business into web development application. He remains today as the President of a privately-held company who believes that the customers are the real investors of the company, and that he and the company should answer to them. This is one of several principles of how he leads his company.
Jason Fried headed 37signals in launching project management application Basecamp in 2004. See our Basecamp Software Review. It made the news in the IT and business world for its different approach as a productivity tool. After 5 years, the PM application has 3 million users and about 2.8 million projects have been created using it. It was completely redesigned and introduced in 2012. In 2006, Campfire was launched, which is another web-based collaboration application that helps teams work together in real-time wherever they may be. In 2007, a contact management application called Highrise was released. An underlying characteristic of the applications was a focus on usefulness rather than splashy features. Jason Fried even described them as applications that do less than the competition, but intentionally.
As early as 2001, 37signals has launched its company blog Signal vs. Noise as a way for Jason Fried to talk about his ideas on collaboration, productivity, simplicity and the nature of work. He has also co-authored several books with other 37signals personalities such as David Heinemeier Hansson. Some of these are Getting Real, which is about the principles used by their company in matters of business, design and programming. We reviewed the book REWORK and it contains a different perspective on common business and management principles such as progress, productivity, and promotion. Remote, on the other hand, is about new ways of working and collaborating as well as the challenges and benefits of doing it. All these books are best sellers and highly recommended. Jason is also a contributor to Inc.com online magazine, where one of his articles is titled Why More Is Not Always Better.
Thought-Leader, Keynote Speaker
In one TED event, Jason Fried spoke about why work is not happening at places of work, which we have written about. In that talk, he mentioned types of distractions that disrupt employees from doing productive work. Moreover, he identified involuntary distractions coming from managers and meetings (M&M) as the more damaging type. In fact, this is a reason why he believes that working remotely is better. For Jason, face-to-face meetings and managers checking on their employees if they are working are sometimes what’s pulling productivity down. When wrongly applied, which has become the norm, M&Ms can destroy morale and motivation.
Empowering People to Do Less and Create More
Jason Fried continues to challenge people with his ideas not only to think but also to think for themselves. He may be called a minimalist but he is also an advocate of productivity and creativity. For example, he believes that working hard so that the customer will have great service and experience is critical. However, he also believes that the basics are beautiful and software should be easy. In the company’s blog, he recently shared that true empowerment is made by creating an environment where people naturally start making decisions for themselves.