I’m ending the week with something for your weekend. If you want to dig into some serious workplace dynamics, catch up on what’s going on at Basecamp. This is a long story not done justice by short format, but I will try.
Casey Newton’s reporting detailed the banning of all societal and political discussions at the company. It started with an internal discussion about a list of “Best Names Ever” of customers, which initially seemed like an innocent way to play at work, and as society examined speech and corporate responsibility, began to look more and more inappropriate and racist.
Discussion about the list internally at the company were lengthy, and an intense examination about culture and communication. This from a company whose two leaders were outspoken on culture, remote work, and collaboration – and make a collaboration product, and have written books on the subject.
And then shut it all down. The backlash went further – the company’s leaders posted a follow up, actually airing some of the internal emails and discussions. The company is now even offering a severance package of up to six months salary for those who wish to leave after the changes.
Why do we care?
I distinctly can’t do this story justice in a few minutes. I’m highlighting the links, which I’m including in the notes, for listeners to dig into.
I bring up culture and the use of technology a lot on this show as a big opportunity for IT services companies, and I believe it. I also know it’s really hard – and constantly evolving. I like the service because it’s hard, and it’s not something that can be commoditized. But at the same time, this isn’t just part time. It’s going to take an investment.
I’m highlighting this example because it’s very public, and because I expect a lot of companies will be reckoning with this. Remember, Basecamp is around 60 employees. They’re an SMB too.