In a tiny company like mine, it’s up to the owner to invent the way the company operates and to design the systems that keep track of what is happening. Fortunately, I find this to be an interesting challenge. If I had wanted to build only furniture, I could have kept myself very busy, but the company would not have grown. Without a rational way to handle information, we would have descended into permanent chaos. Thinking about information is different from ordinary work. The challenge is to find good ways, using data, to describe what’s happening in the real world. It’s aligning the description of the company with the activities of the company. My job as boss is to monitor both of these and to continually modify the description to fit the reality. My employees can’t do it—they each work on their piece of the process. I’m the only one who sees everything. I decide what to keep track of, and how to do it. I have two information systems. First, there’s my subjective impressions of the state of the shop, the mood of the workers, the eagerness of the customers, drawn from my observations and conversations. The second is objective, actual data that lives in separate fiefdoms: the accounting system, in QuickBooks; the contract and productions system, in FileMaker; e-mails and customer folders sit on our server; AdWords data lives in the cloud. So do our shared Google Docs spreadsheets, which act as supplementary databases. There are also a bunch of Excel sheets, dating back to 1997, when I first computerized (twelve years after starting the company). None of these subsystems talk to one another. Information passes between them via the people who use it. I’m the only person in the company who knows how it all fits together.