Book Review #1: Rework

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Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

“That would never work in the real world.”  You hear it all the time when you tell people about a fresh idea… This real world sounds like an awfully depressing place to live.

(excerpt from Rework)

I have selected Rework as my first book to review since it reflects many of my beliefs on how a company should function. This book is written by the founders of 37 Signals, who has developed a series of low-cost products to simplify collaboration.  I will be reviewing some of these products under my Cool Tools.  Rework, like many of the books in My Library is written in a fashion that is easy to read. It has short, concise chapters that say what they need to say in a humorous and easy-to-read (or listen to) style.  The chapter titles are great and include some memorable ones, such as:

  • Learning from Mistakes is Overrated
  • Planning is Guessing
  • Mission Statement Impossible
  • Build Half a Product, not a Half-Assed Product
  • Meetings are Toxic
  • Good Enough is Fine
  • Don’t be a Hero
  • Your Estimates Suck
  • Underdo Your Competition
  • Welcome Obscurity
  • Press Releases are Spam
  • Marketing is not a Department
  • ASAP is Poison
  • Inspiration is Perishable

Those who know me can see why I liked this book.  More important that the humorous presentation is the message.  The authors poke holes in many of the concepts that hold businesses back.  They say we do not need to have an “exit strategy”, nor is the goal necessarily go become increasingly bigger.  It is possible to have fun while building  your business.  Their recommendation is start with something you need.  If you need it, the chances are high that others will too.  Don’t be a copycat and don’t become the victim or process and meetings.  I think the success of 37 Signals speaks for the validity of the advice they give.

An interesting side is that the authors compare this book to the sawdust left behind at the sawmill.  It is a byproduct of what they do.  All they have done is documented the practices that have made 37 Signals successful.  To me, this is an interesting concept and probably one of the reasons the book is so easy to read and hits right at the gut.

What I Took Away From This Book

Rework confirmed many of my beliefs and gave me the shove I needed to start FedBizCoach.  Here are a few of the takeaways from this book:

  1. Know your goals for starting a business.  It is okay to want to stay small and focused.  Not every business needs to have the objective of getting sold, going public, or making everyone rich.
  2. A company can operate with its employees in geographically dispersed locations and on various schedules.
  3. Communications does not mean lots of meetings and reports.
  4. Hire based on capabilities, not on credential, years of experience, and paper claims.
  5. Learn to say NO.  This is hard for businesses, but is essential to maintain your company and your lifestyle.

And most important: you can have fun while running your business.

I hope you will read (or have read it).  Please post your comments below to let me know what you think.


Posted on September 29, 2011, in Balance, Book Review, Collaboration, Communications, Strategic Planning and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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