This is going to be short and sweet but it would be amiss to not mention what happened after. There are times when one wonders if some events and organizations should receive the airtime that they do or if I should let it go. After all, Basecamp is but 57 employees. Over the past month, I have spoken endlessly about Jason Fried’s memo and the changes at Basecamp because there is much one can learn from the memo, yet they didn’t get everything right. Thus, we’re going to turn the lens back to Basecamp for one last time (hopefully) before they make yet another splash in the world of work.
Four days after Jason Fried’s memo, Basecamp gathered for an apology from him on how the changes were communicated. What began on an apologetic note quickly turned into a riot. Not surprisingly, it was the first change on no societal and political discussions allowed on company internal forums that gathered maximum protest. To quote Fried, the decision stemmed from the fact that “today’s social and political waters are especially choppy,” and that internal discussions of those issues were “not healthy” and “hasn’t served us well.” However, per employees of Basecamp, this is not what triggered the change. It all began with a ‘funny names’ list from years ago, which comprised of funny customer names collected over time. While Fried & co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson have gathered fame based on their opinions on leadership and culture, it was surprising that the memos from both didn’t mention the list.
My opinion on this change stays as mentioned in my earlier post, yet this post isn’t about that. It is about the mass exodus of Basecamp employees post the changes were announced; that the all-hands only made worse. It is also about the growing transparency, importance of staying true to your word and everything nice. Corporate hypocrisy exists, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to hide behind mission, values and things that got you through in the past. This is what happened at Basecamp. The misalignment in values between the employees and the founders has now led to a chasm that will be difficult for Basecamp to cross. For complete insight on what happened at the all-hands, I’d recommend a look here and here. But, in the style of Snacks Daily, here’s the takeaway for our buddies at Basecamp–there’s no hiding behind memos and difficult conversations. As much as one may dislike confrontation and opposing views, ultimately how leaders react to these defines the success of an organization. I have no doubt that Basecamp will continue to exist and eventually thrive. Until then, let’s move to other news.