37signals is a small development shop based out of Chicago that a former v-Fluence colleague of mine told me about several years ago. They build collaborative software that places a premium on simplicity and usability – two of my favorite things. I was laying in bed leafing through Time Magazine last night when I stumbled upon an article on them.
Simply put, they seem like an incredible company that does some incredible development work. I also love their marketing materials. They have a number of customer testimonials shot on-location that seem relatively unscripted that I love; their Web site has a very friendly and clean look-and-feel; and they have made great use of video to help explain some of their main product features.
The other thing I like is the sense of their culture you get from their materials: although they clearly get their message across it doesn’t seem as though they have spent tedious hours planning and producing – they just get it done.
Finally, you have to love their perspective on how to work:
37signals isn’t shy about dispensing one thing without charge: advice to small-business owners. On the company blog, Signal vs. Noise, Fried shares what he’s learned about the art of streamlined teamwork with more than 65,000 readers. First, kill all your meetings; they waste employees’ time. “Interruption is the biggest enemy of productivity,” he says. “We stay away from each other as much as we can to get more stuff done.” Use asynchronous communication and software instead to exchange information, ideas and solutions. Next, dump half your projects to focus on the core of your business. Too much time and effort are wasted on second-tier objectives. Third, let your employees decide when and where to work so they can be both efficient and happy. As long as their fingers are near a keyboard, they could as easily be in Caldwell, Idaho, as in Chicago.