Getting Real by 37signals Notes

(if it is in quote it is idea/concept directly from the book and anything outside quotes is just concepts that I shorted to get make the point more clear to myself.)

  • “Way to build a solution to solve your problem and then target the rest of the world”.(find your market)
  • “If you can’t fit everything in within the time and budget allotted then don’t expand the time and budget. Instead, pull back the scope.”
  • “Launching something great that’s a little smaller in scope than planned is better than launching something mediocre and full of holes because you had to hit some magical time, budget...”
  • Be Flexibility
  • “Our recommendation: Scope down. It’s better to make half a product than a half-assed product (more on this later).”
  • “One bonus you get from having an enemy is a very clear marketing message. People are stoked by conflict. And they alos understand a product by comparing it to others. With a chosen enemy, you’re feeding people a story they want to hear. Not only will they understand your product better and faster, they’ll take sides. And that’s a sure-fire way to get attention and ignite passion.”
  • “Take a look and then move on to your own vision and your own ideas.”
  • “The problem is that once a consumer has bought someone else’s story and believes that lie, persuading the  consumer to switch is the same as persuading him to admit he was wrong. And people hate admitting that they’re wrong.”
  • “Instead, you must tell a different story and persuade listeners that your story is more important than the story they currently believe.”
  • “The less your app is a chore to build, the better it will be. Keep it small and managable so you can actually enjoy the process.”
  • “If your app doesn’t excite you, something’s wrong.”
  • “The more massive an object, the more energy is required to change its direction. It;s as true in the business world as it is in the physical world.”
  • “When it comes to web technology, change must be easy and cheap. If you can’t change on the fly, you’ll lose ground to someone who can.”

Mass is increased by...
  • Long term contracts
  • Excess staff
  • Permanent decisions
  • Meetings about other meetings
  • Inventory (physical or mental)
  • Proprietary data formats
  • Just-in-time thinking
  • Multi-tasking team members
  • Less software, less code
  • Less features
  • Small teams size
  • Simplicity
  • An open culture that makes it easy to admit mistakes”

  • “Then let’s say a new technology like Ajax or a new concept like tagging comes around.”
  • “Obviously the less-mass company is in a better position to adjust to the real demans of the marketplace.”
  • “The less mass company will be two steps ahead while the more mass company is still figuring out how to walk.”
  • “If change gets too expensive,  you’re dead.”
  • “Cheap and fast changes are small’s secret weapon.”
  • “And remember: All the cash, all the marketing, all the people in the world can’t buy the agility you get from being small.”
  • “Start with a developer, a designer, and a sweeper (someone who can roam between both worlds).”
  • “Instead of freaking out about these constraints, embrace them. Let them guide you.”
  • “Constraints are often advantages in disguise. Forget about venture capital, long release cycles, and quick hires. Instead, work with what you have.”
  • “Too bad. Being small can actually be a huge advantage, especially when it comes to communication.”
  • “Smaller companies are closer to the customer by default.”
  • “You can ditch formalities. There’s no need for arduous processes and multiple sign-offs on everything.”
  • This unfettered flow of ideas is one of the big advantages of staying small.
  • “Don’t worry about the size of your headline font in week one. You don’t need to nail that perfect shade of green in week two. You don’t need to move that “submit” button three pixels to the right in week three. Just get the stuff on the page for now. Then use it. Make sure it works. Later on you can adjust and perfect it.”
  • “I really got over the “get into details right away” attitude after I took some drawing classes... If you begin to draw the details right away you can be sure that the drawing is going to suck. In fact, you are completely missing the point.”
  • “Do you really need you worry about scaling to 100,000 customers today if it will take you two years to get there?”
  • “Do you really have to hire eight programmers if you only need three today?”
  • “People often spend too much time up front trying to solve problems they don;t even have yet. Don’t. Heck, we launched Basecamp without the ability to bill customers! Since the product billed in monthly cycles, we knew we had a 30-day gap to figure it out.”
  • “Ya know what? Wait until that actually happens. If you’ve got a huge number of people overloading your system then huzzah! That’s one swell problem to have.”
  • “We think that’s bullshit. The best software has a vision. The best software takes sides. When someone uses software, they’re not just looking for features, they’re looking for an approach. They're looking for a vision. Decide what your vision is and run with it.”
  • “Start off with a lean, smart app and let it gain traction. Then you can add to the solid foundation you’ve built.”
  • “Our favorite answer to the :why didn’t you do this or why didn’t you do that?: question is always: “Because it just doesn’t matter.”
  • “Every new feature request that comes to us - or from us - meets a no. We listen but don’t act. The initial response is :not now.” If a request for a feature keeps coming back, that’s when we know it’s time to take a deeper look.”
  • “Wait wait - put your hands down. Listen: I know you have a thousand ideas for all the cool features Itunes could have. So do we. But we don’t want a thousand features. That would be ugly. Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying NO to all but the most crucial features.” - pg58.
  • “If you launch an affiliate program do you have the systems in place to handle the accounting and payouts? Maybe you should just let people earn cradit against their membership fees instead of writing, signing, and mailing a check each month.”
  • “Bottom line: Build products and offer services you can manage. “Its easy to make promises. It’s much harder to keep them.”
  • “Don’t force conventions on people. Instead make your software general so everyone can find their own solution.  Give people just enough to solve their own problems their own way. And then get out of the way.” pg 61.
  • “And one more thing: Just because x number of people request something, doesn’t mean you have to include it. Sometimes it’s better to just say no and maintain your vision for the product.” pg 63.
  • “It is simply too easy, and sometimes fun, to waste valuable time inventing features that turn out to be unnecessary or unimplementable.” pg 67.
  • “Don’t expect to get it right the first time. Let the app grow and speak to you. Let it morph and evolve. With web based software there’s no need to ship perfection. Design screens, use them, analyze them, and then start over again.” pg 68.
  • Get something real posted so everyone can see what it looks like on screen.” pg 71
  • “That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas. I’m not interested until I see their execution.” pg 75.
  • “Specialization has its advantages, it also creates a situation where staffers see just their own little world instead of the entire context of the web app.” pg 82.
  • “As much as possible, integrate your team so there’s a healthy back-and-forth dialogue throughout the process.” pg. 82
  • “Even better, hire people with multiple talents who can wear different hats during development.” pg. 82
  • “Prefer to work either early in the morning or late at night times when they’re not being bothered.” pg. 83

Toxic Meetings

  • “They break your work day into small, incoherent pieces that disrupt your natural workflow.”  pg. 85
  • “They're usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things ( like a piece of code or some interface design).” pg 85
  • “They often contain at least one moron that inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.” pg 85
  • There’s no need to get big early -  or later.” pg. 90
  • “There’s no way that you can immediately assimilate that many people into a coherent culture.” pg. 90

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