Jason Fried On Momentum, Productivity and Business Success

37 Signals recently added a page for talks given by their staff where I came across a presentation that Jason Fried gave at the Business of Software 2008. Fried is never afraid to speak his mind and be controversial and there’s much here I would disagree with. Just because what he does works for 37 Signals doesn’t mean it works for everybody, but there were some ideas that really grabbed me.

Interruption is the Enemy of Productivity

Fried talks about how creative people need large blocks of time in which to work and that interruptions cut into this time. 37 Signals has dealt with this problem by maintaining an office that nobody works at; everybody works remotely, meeting only occasionally as a group in their office space. This eliminates some common forms of interruption like the tap on the shoulder or the address from across the room.

The Four Day Week

All 37 Signals employees work a Monday through Thursday with Friday off. Fried says that productivity has increased since they cut Fridays, his explanation being that people have had to cut out the non-essential work and focus on what’s important.

There are certainly many jobs that can expand to fill the time allotted to them and distractions can eat up a lot of time. Still, I’m not so sure that cutting out a day of work would automatically eliminate this kind of waste. 37 Signals clearly is committed to creating the most effective work environment, and it’s this kind of support that seems most crucial.


This was the overall theme of the talk: how building momentum creates good work and great companies. It seems that there are a few components to this, but a big part of it is creating easy opportunities for success. Smaller projects, attention to detail and constant iteration: these tactics create successes that can be repeated such that people are always motivated to do better work.

This talk is well worth viewing. Check it out below.

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