by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Book Cover


Corporate orthodoxy celebrates craziness at work, meetings all the time, long work weeks, multiple projects for everyone, hair on fire.

This is not the only way, and the authors advocate for the calm, thoughtful environment they created at Basecamp that allows productivity and creativity to blossom while respecting the individual.

Reading notes

It’s crazy but there’s no reason for it

  • The natural answer to craziness should be to reduce bullshit rather than increasing hours
  • Having hair on fire is pointless
  • Only people who want to pretend brag about the hours they put.

About goals

  • Goals are a source of stress and only to give the impression of control
  • It leads to compromising the company’s moral and honesty
  • You can have no goals and just do as good as possible
  • Basecamp decides about what is next every 6 weeks

Remove the bs:

  • You need comfort to be calm
  • Status meetings are a waste of time, don’t do them. Instead, monthly heartbeats emails
  • People don’t need to be at the office to get things done. People assume they can interrupt you.

Modern-day offices have become interruption factories.

  • We are not family. The loyalty is usually unidirectional at best.
  • Trust battery - employee at 50% when hired then either charging or discharging. A 10% charge means hard interaction has 90% to go south

Protect time

  • You need to give experts the time to be focused rather than interrupted. SMEs have office hours, they decide when, you can’t interrupt them outside of these.
  • Allowing people to reach into your calendar is effectively letting people organize your time. Planning meetings should be hard

Relation with company

  • Work life balance happens when employees have equal right to claim business time than reverse
  • Salaries shouldn’t be negotiated so that everyone stands on the same foot.
  • Benefits aimed at trapping people at the office are traps, not benefits


  • The office has library rules: its a quite environment, you respect others and dont make noise
  • You need to explain why people are let go to keep everyone quite and secure

Slow down

“If it’s important, slow down.”

  • If it’s too important, break the discussion and write it up instead. Don’t react to write up’s, consider them.
  • Deadlines are usually arbitrary and made up by those who don’t have to do the work. Replace them by budget and adjust scope
  • Disagree and commit: decide, explain and go

Compromise on quality

  • 80% is usually fine with a majority of people. You can’t always do your best, budgets are limited ; do it only for what matters

you do one thing at 100 percent, you’ve spent 100 percent to get that one thing. If you spend 20 percent each on getting five things to 80 percent, well, then, you’ve done five things! We’ll almost always take that trade.

Doing stuff

  • Don’t change target midway for no reason. Commit to something, deliver it, see where it lands you.
  • Users might neither like nor dislike something but just got used to it. Prevent changing things that work and people got used to.
  • Best practices are best for who wrote them, and are usually the worst elsewhere

The only way to get more done is to have less to do.

  • Chop problems down until they can be solved by 3 persons rather than throwing more people at it

Consumption model & customers

  • Don’t get trapped by large customers. Keep your independence by giving them no more power than your target audience: replace seat model by fixed cost, dont have “big deals”
  • People are against change when they didn’t ask for it. Consider keeping old versions alive
  • When you deal with someone who has a problem, there are two tokens : no bug deal, or the end of the world. Whichever you pick, they will pick the other, keep in mind: which am I leaving to the customer
  • Downsize your offer when things are working well, this helps focusing on what works, and avoid being focused on pure growth that will get you into trouble.

About Reading Notes

These are my takes on this book. See other reading notes. Most of the time I stop taking notes on books I don't enjoy, and these end up not being in the list. This is why average ratings tend to be high.