Book Review: Rework

I just finished one of the most helpful books I've ever read about how to do business.  As you can see by the back cover, the ideas presented in this book go against the grain of traditional business practice - "underdo the competition" - say what!?

The reason why I paid attention to what Jason and David (the authors) have to say in this book is because their software product company, 37signals, is phenomenally successful as a result of staying true to these "radical" principles.  They do millions of dollars of profit every year and have only about 16 employees.

I like hearing other people's ideas about how to build a successful business, but I like it even more when I can see proof of the direct application and positive results of those ideas.

Here's some of my notes from the book:

  • Underdo the competition. It's tempting to give into the lure of more:  more features, more menu choices, more products, more employees, more everything.  "What?  That company has 10 features in their product?  Let's do 20!"  "Hey, that restaurant has 20 choices on their menu!  We gotta come up with 30!"  This is crazy.  Focus on quality, simplicity, and ease of use because that is what really matters.  All that other stuff wears off faster than you can blink so that in the end, you're not left with more, you're just left with stuff.  Yuck.
  • Say NO to the customer.  Be a good fit for the masses.  Don't try to appeal to the few.  This means saying "no" to customers when their requests don't fall in line with what your business is about.  Another point - you have to get crystal clear on what you stand for as a business in order to know where to set boundaries so that you know when to say no.  Trying to please everyone is a recipe for a company that stands for nothing.  The only requests that really matter are the ones you hear over and over.
  •  Workaholics create more problems than they solve.  This one is my favorite.  We live in a culture that makes heroes out of people who are willing to spend all day and night suffering away at their desks and computers.  The human brain is simply not designed to spend so many hours in a row concentrating on work.  Yes, we can and do force ourselves to buckle down with a task for hours on end.  However, unless you're some kind of super human, the quality of the work you produce this way is going to suffer and you wind up creating more problems than you solve.                                      
  • Jason and David of 37signals know that work doesn't happen at work.  They don't require any of their employees to come into the office and clock in hours at the desk.  All they care about is that the work gets done.  You can argue with this, but you'd be arguing with a company that does millions of dollars of profit every year with just a handful of employees.  Of course, the significant key in this is hiring the right people.
  • Go home in time for dinner, they say.  Catch your kid's soccer game.  Committing to leave the office on time forces you to focus and get the job done.  If you commit to leaving at say, 4 pm, you're not going to waste time chit-chatting with co-workers or whatever.  You're attitude will be, "Okay, I have this specific number of hours left.  I'm going to give this task my all, but I'm leaving at 4.  Period."  You don't have to feel guilty if you're going home and your co-workers are still toiling away at their computers.  You can be proud of yourself because you know how to set boundaries and spend your time productively.
There's alot more awesome, fresh ideas in the book.  These are just the 3 that really popped up for me because I've started applying them in my own business recently before I even heard of the book, and it's nice to find that I'm not alone.  ;) 


3 comments:

  1. The fact that our lives somehow evolve around work, the traffic, the television, our mobile phones, the internet and social media shouldn't license them to dictate how we should live our lives. Doesn't it feel odd that instead of creating our own place in the Society, the Society dictates how we should live the perfect life as victims of the no-way-back society rules.

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  2. It best habit to read this type of books.

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  3. It is a pretty good post. This post contains useful information which helps us a lot. I visit your website often and share with my friends.
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    ReplyDelete

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