Creating a Culture of Collaboration: Q&A with Jason Fried

When he co-founded 37signals, a Chicago-based software firm, in 1999, Jason Fried had no idea he’d become The New York Times bestselling co-author of “Rework,” a book about starting and running a “right-sized” business.” Three years after the book’s release, Fried and his founding partner, David Hansson (who lives in Denmark), co-authored another book, “Remote: Office Not Required” in 2013 about how employers can work collaboratively with remote employees. Still, Fried is probably best known in the business world for creating the project management software known as Basecamp, which helps companies manage projects with virtual employees. The program was created out of necessity for 37signals (now known exclusively as Basecamp, as of February 2014), a company with four employees in Chicago, many who still work remotely, and 28 additional remote employees including two farmers, who work everywhere from Utah to Canada. Collaborate contributor Dawn Reiss talked with Fried about improving teamwork at conferences, conventions and meetings.

Why did you decide to write “Remote: Office Not Required”?

We have 10 years of experience with having people work remotely for us. We started getting comments like, ‘How do you do this? I don’t believe it’s possible.’ As these questions started piling up, and we were answering the same questions over and over, we realized we should put a book together. A lot of people are curious about this.

How can a culture of collaboration improve events, based on your experience?

When people don’t communicate clearly, it all breaks down fast, especially if people just use email to coordinate things back and forth. The problem is things get lost, and no one knows where the latest version of something is. Tools like Basecamp exist to help keep everyone on the same page, which is very important for a big event. You can forget someone or lose a presentation or not have a time slot right.

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