Book Review - Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
After the buzz I've seen generated by this book, I needed to read it to find out what it was all about... Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. They are the guys who started the web company 37signals, a company that has found a sizable niche with software products that are simple and basic. There are enough features to get the job done, and no more. In Rework, they share their philosophy on how a company should be started and run, based on how they've run their own company. While I won't say that I agree with everything in here, they do cut through a lot of the red tape and bureaucracy you see in far too many companies today. You could say this is a book of common sense for those who have forgotten just what that means in an organizational environment.
Rework is divided up into a number of sections: Takedowns, Go, Progress, Productivity, Competitors, Evolution, Promotion, Hiring, Damage Control, and Culture. Each section then has a number of one to three page topics within that section that talk to different aspects. For instance, under Evolution, you'll find topics such as Say No By Default, Let Your Customers Outgrow You, and Don't Confuse Enthusiasm With Priority. The writing is short, blunt, and to the point, and that's where the value comes in. You don't have to fish around to figure out what the writers are trying to say. If they say ignore the real world, they'll tell you why. Too many people think your idea might be interesting, but won't work "in the real world." Fried and Hansson think the real world is far too pessimistic, and their company is based on things that shouldn't work in the real world... a dozen employees spread out in eight cities on two continents, no salespeople or advertising, and telling the world exactly what makes your company tick. Yet, their company makes millions every year. Go figure. Instead, try out your idea anyway.
I found a number of new insights that adjusted my thinking during the reading of the book. I'd never thought about "selling my by-products." Instead of just selling an application, perhaps you can also sell the story behind the application or articles on how the application was built. Another lesson was to make tiny decisions. If you try and make a huge decision, you can get locked into indecision or end up fearful of the potential ramifications. Instead, focus on the first step and decision that needs to be made. Make it and move forward. If it works, keep going. If it doesn't, then you can stop with little cost or investment.
So do I agree with everything here? No. This all works great for a small company with this type of mindset ingrained in its culture. I can see it also working relatively well with small teams within a larger company. But if you're a multi-billion dollar company with Wall Street demands, can you truly work from a basis of letting your customer outgrow you? No. On the other hand, should you have a product that meets 80% of the needs of people, and then let them outgrow that to another product that you make, building customer loyalty along the way? Perhaps. However, there are parts of this book that apply to companies of *any* size. ASAP is poison... Meetings are toxic... Cultures happen... Those are all true, and all too often overlooked or ignored.
This book should only take you a couple hours to read, but the messages can significantly change the way you view your work and your organization. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with some (or many) of the points, Rework is a recommended read.
Obtained From: Publicist