Silicon Prairie News

BitMethod releases its ‘Field Guide to Modern Business’

Des Moines September 30, 2010 by Danny Schreiber Only 20 days until Big Omaha. Get your tickets before they sell out!

BitMethod, a Des Moines-based web and mobile application development firm, unveiled its latest team project yesterday, the "BitMethod Field Guide to Modern Business."

Currently standing at 23 entries, the Field Guide covers topics ranging from gaining leverage – "profit is power" – to remembering to name everything in your office space – "name everything." The guide was created, according to a blog post by BitMethod's CEO Daniel Shipton, to begin committing the company's values to paper.

"Some things we do won’t make much sense viewed through the lens of Des Moines’ current business leadership," Shipton wrote in the blog post. Preceding this statement, Shipton explained:*

Des Moines is the third largest insurance hub in the world. As a result, the values and cultural norms are heavily influenced by large insurance and banking companies that reside here. Aversion to risk and favoring safe bets are the norm. This is something we would like to change because, going forward, we believe that what we have been does not have to be what we are.

BitMethod is here to think big, start things, take risks and accomplish the unthinkable.

Read Shipton's full post at bitmethod.com/blog.

Here's a selection of Field Guide entries, from left to right: "stand out," "start things," and "Silicon Valley is an attitude, not a place."

To learn more about the creation of the Field Guide, the inspiration for it, and if we can expect to see it in print form in the future, I conducted an email interview with Shipton:

Silicon Prairie News: Specifically, who are the authors of the field guide? In addition, are each of the entries a group effort or a collection of individual entries?

Daniel Shipton: The entries in the Field Guide were assembled over several weeks as we took BitMethod through a process of establishing goals and vision. It involved a lot of beer and billiards. Scott typed it up, but it was written collectively by the whole team and each entry reflects something important to the company as a whole. Obviously, some people are more passionate about certain entries related to their responsibilities, but this is really the voice of BitMethod as a whole.

(Photo from twitter.com/danielshipton)

Was this project inspired by a similar "Field Guide" elsewhere?

We were very strongly inspired by 37Signals' Rework, Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, and Behind the Cloud by Mark Benioff. It started out as a simple list of tenets in a notebook – the Field Guide treatment comes from our "Name Everything" philosophy.

What do the numbers of each entry represent? Are there or will there be 996 entries?

We're leaving it open. The numbers are random, but permanent. We like having the entries numbered so that if we completely change our mind on something or think of a better way to say it, we can update "Entry 899" and track what changed. The dates and version numbers at the bottom will be more informative than the entry number. I wouldn't be surprised somewhere down the road to have old text and titles crossed out and replaced with new ideas on the same subject.

(Left, screenshot of entry 899, "name everything")

 

Will this be available in a downloadable format at some point?

Downloadable, print, podcast…who knows? As the Welcome page explains the entries are very cursory right now, but we think it'd make a great book someday when everything is fleshed out. We have some ideas on the drawing board that take the Field Guide concept a lot deeper.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Just that I'm extremely proud of the team for pulling together to make this happen. While the entries were assembled over a few weeks, we went from "Let's turn the tenets into something shareable" to "Come check out our Field Guide" in about a day. Maintain momentum and good things will come.

Learn more about the "BitMethod Field Guide to Modern Business" on the company's blog, Brick by Brick: Bring On the Brouhaha - Introducing Our Field Guide.

Read the Field Guide at bitmethod.com/fieldguide.

*Updated 9:10 a.m. – When published, this paragraph contained a factual error. It has been removed and the post has been updated.

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