David Heinemeier Hansson is one of the hottest names in IT right now. He’s been developing something called Ruby on Rails, which is a tool for developing web applications. Now Denmark has become too small for David, and he’s left for Chicago, better to work with his compatriots at 37signals, one of the most admired software shops right now.
The evening before he left, he gave a presentation in Copenhagen to a small crowd of techies, bloggers, business people and others. I was there and I was blown away by this guy. Not only is he a good developer, he also has an amazing sense for how a business can also be designed. And he’s 26 years old. Interestingly, his software design principles are the same as his business design principles, making his philosophy consistent and credible. Here are the main points I took away from his presentation:
Solve the next problem
Whether you’re working on software or building a business, this means that you should tackle the issues that matter right now. Don’t solve the problems you think will appear in 6 months – they probably won’t, you see. Solve the next problem, and then the next. In six months time, you will have plenty of stuff to work on, but it won’t be what you thought six months ago.
Solve your own problems
When you work on something that you yourself need, you’re much more efficient. Rather than working on something that some remote client will use, attack issues that are important to you.
Do as little as possible – or slightly less
The complexity of any system does not grow proportianl to the size of the system – it grows exponentially. Making a system twice as large makes it waaay more that twise as complex. Therefore, make your system as simple as possible, or maybe even a little simpler.
And if I may be allowed to brag for a moment here: This is exactly how we work on the Happy At Work Project. Here are a few of our maxims, that I might add:
Rather than analyzing a given choice to death, make a quick decision and try it out. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
It’ll all work out. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t work too hard. Take plenty of breaks and do lots of different stuff to stimulate your mind.
The best of luck to David in Chicago – I’m sure he’ll do famously.