Rework is my kind of book. Written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson from 37Signals, it has several chapters made up of a bunch of short essays (most less than two pages) that each dive into a very specific idea or question related to the chapter. And pictures, lots of pictures.
Much of the content comes from the personal experiences of the authors over the past 10 years. To say that their approach to their company is unusual and unorthodox (at least compared to how you are usually told you should run a business) is an understatement.
The following essays in the book give you an idea of what I mean:
- Ignore the real world (p. 13) – “The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse.”
- Why grow? (p. 22) – “Small is a great destination in itself.”
- Scratch your own itch (p. 34) – examples include James Dyson, Vic Firth, and Mary Kay Wagner
- Embrace constraints (p. 67) – “Constraints are advantages in disguise.”
- Throw less at the problem (p. 83) – “Your project won’t suffer nearly as much as you fear.”
- Meetings are toxic (p. 108) – OK, we already knew that
- Underdo your competition (p. 144) – “Do less than your competitors to beat them.”
- …and many more…
The individual essays read like blog posts, and they are collected into chapters that could most easily be compared to tags on a blog. The chapters are organized in an almost, but not quite, chronological order based on when you might need the info as you grow (or don’t) your business. The first time through I read the book front to back, but it doesn’t really matter what order you read them.
Though aimed squarely at starters (not entrepreneurs) who want to start a business (not start a startup), Rework contains valuable ideas and insights for anyone who works, whether for themselves or for someone else. Big companies likely will not be able – or interested – in implementing many of the ideas, but anyone can take the lessons and make a difference in their corner of whatever company they find themselves.
The design of the book is also a lesson in the unusual; about the only typical aspect are the inside flaps on the book jacket. For example, when I started reading the book, I immediately had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. It was only when I finished the book and saw, on the last printed page, the copyright page that I realized the source of that feeling.
Fried and Hansson have pulled a George Lucas, dispensing with all the upfront crap that you usually have to get through to get to the good stuff. Two pages of praise, and then the Table of Contents. Not even a title page. Talk about getting right to the point!
If you haven’t guessed already, I strongly recommend that you read this book. It deserves the place its found on bestseller lists. You may agree or disagree with what they have to say, but they will definitely get you thinking and asking yourself questions about why you do what you do and how you do it.
Update: My review was mentioned on Signal vs. Noise in the post Interesting tangents from REWORK readers.