37signals, the mother of small-giant companies 📚

37signals, the mother of small-giant companies 📚
Photo by Mario Gogh / Unsplash

37signals is a software company founded 23 years ago in Chicago. It encountered a huge success with a team organization app named Basecamp (which they changed their company name to before reverting recently to 37signals), made some splash with Hey! their web-based email, stirred the App Store controversy, and many other things. But generally, they were a pretty fair success in the industry for quite a long time.

So why should you care? Not for their software but rather because they defined the playbook for small-giant companies. Their new minimalist website recaps their key principles through a quite extensive manifesto.

Here are the three main ones (out of the... 37):

01. An obligation to independence
02. Work isn't war
03. Small teams

I love it because I'm a practical guy. They're not shooting for the stars, bragging about being a mission-driven corporation, or whatever is currently trendy that both HR and your marketing department would invent when stuck in a seminar together.

They walk the talk.

In 2013, we already discussed some of these principles with Stéphanie and what we wanted to "achieve" with our business. I was a bit taken aback when talking about the fact that we wanted to be a boutique consulting business; a very good friend working in the US told me, "I see; it's about lifestyle, not business, then?" Which, yes, it was? But in a good way for the business, too (I learned that day that being boutique, anything was pejorative from a West Coast perspective #oops).

At this point, I did what I usually do when I want to work something out. I wrote about it in an article that maybe I should translate into English ⤵️

Small is Beautiful, une vision de l’excellence à moins de 10 salariés – Innovation Copilots
Le sens commun nous fait bien comprendre que créer une entreprise est essentiellement difficile, du fait de la fragilité du projet, du manque initial de ressources et de la difficulté à exister face à des concurrents mûrs, forcément mieux reconnus. Le bon sens est un ennemi intime, dont il faut

While I get to it, you can also stop reading me, save some time and get Bo Burlingham's bestseller on why size might be an impediment, not so much an advantage, for businesses...

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big

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