Thursday, November 5, 2009

Freeranging Profile: Jason Fried of 37Signals

Great read in Inc: The Way I Work: Jason Fried of 37Signals:
We don't have big, long-term plans, because they're scary -- and they're usually wrong. Making massive decisions keeps people up at night -- I don't like to make those. The closer you can get to understanding what that next moment might be, the less worried you are. Most of the decisions we make are in the moment, on the fly, as we go.
 Great stuff! Freeranging in action.

I'm looking for more stories just like this. I'm not living under any illusion that there will be lots of these stories, but that's the way emergent practices are. If there were lots then they wouldn't be interesting. Your pointers to more stories would be most appreciated.

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Peg Boyles said...

Relates directly to the very old/new Buddhist notion of Shoshin (beginner's mind), communicated via numerous teaching stories and reflected today in many pockets of professional as well as individual practice.

In a previous life, writing about the economics of professional health care for a business publication, I interviewed hospital CEOs (imagine!) who spoke in terms much like Fried's about how they run their complex networks.

One guy told me he'd abandoned strategic planning (and all of its first-and second-order relatives) a couple of decades ago in favor of daily (early morning) meetings with key staff, including housekeeping and lower-level tech staffs.

I don't think you'll have any trouble finding the stories you seek, Kevin. I can even envision a collection of 'em, organized into an online freeranger's storybank.

Peg Boyles said...

Curious: Why does having lots of stories make any one of them de facto less interesting?

For my money, a good story grabs attention and holds interest wherever it comes from. Usually you need a lot of good stories to stimulate behavior change.

Kevin Gamble said...


The Shoshin stuff is good. I need something to get a handle on what Stowe Boyd talks about living in the flow. I'm going to do some study.

I'm trying to decide if focusing on now is part of agile or something unique unto itself. I'm leaning towards something unique.

I'm not looking for lots of stories. In this case I'm looking for 2-3 good ones where the range of values are demonstrated.

Lots of stories helps in the Snowden sense when you're doing sensemaking. His theory is that you collect narrative fragments with self-signified meta data. Analyzing the metadata looking for emergent practice is what that is mostly about. He says you need 200 or so to begin seeing patterns.


Peg Boyles said...

I have so many questions:

Where do you want your 2-3 stories to come from? High-performing companies? Financial institutions? Government agencies? Nonprofits? Academia? Self-mobilizing activist groups?

And just what "range of values" do you want your stories to demonstrate?

Who's this "you" you refer to who needs 200 stories to detect patterns? (In specific circumstances, one good story might reveal a pattern of massive collective deception [e.g., The Emperor's New Clothes]).


In his book Quantum Change, University of New Mexico researcher Bill Miller recounts how he and his fellow researchers got subjects for their study of rapid transformational change (and plenty of stories) by placing a small classified ad in the Albuquerque Journal. That might work for you.



You might more usefully characterize Now as central, rather than unique. It's a core teaching and a practice of many ancient and current wisdom traditions.

The way I understand it, the practice (which goes by many names) involves separation from and observation of the tumultuous flow of interior chatter ("monkey-brain") that engulfs awareness and restricts it to conventional/rigid categories.

These many wisdom traditions say the practice allows practitioners access to higher-order thinking, creativity, and responsiveness (our birthright as self-developing organisms. We come in with all the biological gifts, but we have to work for higher awareness.)

Kevin Gamble said...


I think the two or three stories could come from anywhere. Variety would be good.

Values-- yes some, but commonalities is probably a better choice of words. I think there is a core of common practices that freerangers practice, e.g. a simple example is Jason not using an alarm clock.

I was mixing tasks talking about needing 2-3 stories and then saying "you" need 200 (or so) narrative fragments. The narrative fragments would be used if you (someone) were doing a sensemaker study looking for emergent practices. My referencing this was totally unrelated to wanting two or three good people to interview about their freeranging. And I'm really looking for freeranging organizations. Not just an individual. I actually think the more interesting people might not be the someone like Jason but one of his colleagues.

Totally agree with the power to deceive.

Good stuff you've provided. I like the use of central. I'll use it from now on. TY!

Been reading Dewey's How We Think. It has lots on interior-chatter. (Bought it at Powell Books in Portland, OR. A first edition 1910. Kind of fun.)

I'll keep reading. TY!