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On Craftsmanship

We’re currently navigating through the maze of acquiring a larger office space in Manhattan as we’ve outgrown our current headquarters. One of the interesting things we’ve found during this process is that the owners of large buildings will sometimes want to see our current office to get a feel for who we are. They want to know what kind of tenant they are about to offer a lease to.

We recently had one such office visit by a prospective landlord. After seeing how we’ve built out our current office and meeting some of our people, she became curious about the type of business we operated. While we can throw around terms like web software and SaaS all day long in our community, the reality is that to most people, what we do here is a foreign concept to them.

I took her through our business, showing her how Harvest is used and what types of customers we have. After getting a grasp of what we did, she looked around the room, eyeing the team, and asked, “What’s everybody doing? Are they just monitoring the website?” After all, the product appears to be working, what else might we need to do? The answer: a lot. As any software business knows, the product itself is just half the work.

To see it from her non-technical point of view, it wasn’t an outrageous question at all. I thought briefly how I would best answer this. Then I began:

Everyone here is a craftsman. Whether our craft is through technology, design or words, every person here is a craftsman. Like devoted woodworkers, we believe the back side of a cabinet is deserving of as much attention as the front side. Being craftsmen, we use our hard-won experience to build a trusted set of tools (whether physical, software or tools of the mind) to solve problems in the best way possible. As a collective, we shape the product and ultimately the entire Harvest service.

Our team is comprised of people who believe in crafting beautiful code, sweating the details and pixels, and working hard to find the right words to express our ideas. At the end of each day, we want to take a step back and say, “that’s our best work yet.”

That’s what everybody is doing here. We’re craftsmen (and women).

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