Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Getting Real

And, speaking of design in organizations, I made it thru 37 Signals' new e-book and it was a great read. Basically, I don't know what I can say about it other than that it's revolutionary, but ought not to be. Getting Real talks about how to build software, but it doing so it outlines a path that has the potential of leading to elegant business practices, good relationships and just plain fun!

It was just refreshing to see them strip away all the trappings of so-called "professionalism" and really get to the heart of what makes business work--it's about the people, IMHO. Now, I understand that some people have problems with 37 Signals' approach, e.g., they're arrogant, they are simpliste, etc. However, in reading Getting Real, I'm convinced that they have things figured out far more than that analysis would allow for.

Why? Because of the way they think of customers. Do they say that you shouldn't try to please everybody all the time or to solve everyone's problems? Do they think that once in a while customers can be not only wrong but dead wrong? Absolutely. But, they also recognize that customers are the point of it all--as well as being the starting place for product improvement, etc. Is this oxymoronic? No, I think it's common sense that's based on a reasonable reading of statistics, frankly.

Here's a quote that illustrates the kind of realism that the team advocates.
Unless a document is actually going to morph into something real, don't produce it.

Build, don't write. If you need to explain something, try mocking it up and prototyping it rather than writing a long-winded document. An actual interface or prototype is on its way to becoming a real product. A piece of paper, on the other hand, is only on its way to the garbage can.
So the book is really appropriately named. Getting Real cuts thru the "thick process," of the business world, process that accumulates pretty darn fast, even in small organizations. Even if you're not in the best position to implement the advice given in the book, it will be a breath of fresh cool air in the desert of status quoism.

You can buy the book online at 37signals.com. Just a note on the e-book format, it was super-fantastic. I printed it out and took it with me on the plane and as I finished pages, I jettisoned them and my bag got lighter. Then, I kept the pages that had something interesting on them. Win/Win/Win.