It doesn’t have to be crazy at your credit union

A book review

“If it’s constantly crazy at work, we have two words for you: F**k that. And two more. Enough already.” How’s that for straightforward business advice? If your workplace is defined by 80-hour weeks, packed schedules, endless meetings, overflowing inboxes, unrealistic deadlines, Sunday afternoon emails and the like, It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work is a must read.

In fact, as the YMC team kicks off our “Level Up Book Club,” this is the first book we’re reading in 2019. Why this one? Because the three words that define success for #teamymc in 2019 are quality, consistency, and calm. Quality and consistency are pretty attainable with proper focus and making the right decisions. But calm? How in the world do we achieve calm in a ten-year-old company that has been in growth mode for its entire life? Good question.

Typically, as I read a book, I’ll tab a few pages for reference. By the time I finished this manifesto by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of Basecamp, almost all of the book’s 200 pages were tabbed. Needless to say, there’s plenty of practical wisdom to remember. So, what makes Fried and Hansson different from other business experts? In their own words, “We work on our company as hard as we work on our products.” They view their company itself as a product. That struck a chord, as I’ve been very intentional over the last few years to treat the YMC brand as a product of its own. As a team, we’ve done ok. But I know we can do better.

Ask almost anyone you know “How are things at work?” and there’s a good chance their answer is going to reference some form of “crazy.” By breaking many long-held business traditions, Fried and Hansson have successfully bucked that trend at Basecamp. For example, they don’t set sales goals. Why not? “Because it’s disingenuous for us to pretend to care about a number we just made up, and because we aren’t willing to make the cultural compromises it takes to get there.” There’s a simple brilliance in this approach. That’s why, in 2019, our YMC goals are focused on stepping up our game in terms of quality and consistency, with a quarter of our success being measured on the results our clients see. No sales goals. No revenue goals.

With their characteristic candor, the authors offer another simple, yet powerful takeaway: Don’t change the world. “Basecamp isn’t changing the world. It’s making it easier for companies and teams to communicate and collaborate. That is absolutely worthwhile, and it makes for a wonderful business, but we’re not exactly re-writing history.” The duo is keenly aware of their impact on their own workers’ lives, and it’s a responsibility they take seriously. It begins with protecting their team’s ability to focus on the work they were hired to do and complete that work within a standard work week.

Without realizing it, our YMC team has spent the last two years setting ourselves up to succeed in this area in 2019. Over that time, we’ve shed a few clients who weren’t exactly who we would consider ideal clients. We chose not to work with micromanagers, verbally abusive people, or those who want change but are afraid to make the decisions required to accomplish that change. Today, we have more than 30 clients who value our time and the expertise we bring to the table. And most importantly, they understand that for us to do excellent work that will have a lasting positive impact on their credit union, we must have the necessary time and resources.

In the end, Fried and Hansson give this advice: “Set out to do good work. Set out to be fair in your dealings with customers, employees, and reality.” That’s exactly what #teamymc is planning to do. Over the next 12 months, we will be considering another dozen or so ideas presented in the book and determine whether they are the right solutions to help us achieve quality, consistency, and calm in 2019. For even more takeaways, check out our video review of this book.

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: Details

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