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A book by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

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Common sense often isn't very common...

  • Apr 11, 2010
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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
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More Rework reviews
review by . November 03, 2010
Counter-intuitivism has never been this appealing or enlightening. Following uncommon, adverse advice and tips normally would seem as crazy talk, but in Rework, the approach and delivered goods are well worth the look on the naysayers' faces when you're successful from heeding said advice.      From burgeoning entrepreneurs to weathered corporate managers alike, this book works for either as a new approach to obtaining the same goal: success, and its myriad of definitions …
review by . May 05, 2010
Prior to reading Rework, I was unfamiliar with Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson, or their company 37signals. One book, however, provides the reader with the insight into the attitudes of the founders and a basis for the reasons for their success. However, if you subscribe to "conventional wisdom," this book may not be for you. The authors tend go against your experience and what has been instilled into you during your college and graduate work. Nonetheless, this is a worthwhile book, …
review by . May 26, 2010
A compendium of ideas, suggestions, do's & don'ts, warnings, tips and personal experiences.
From the opening pages of "Rework' it becomes quite apparent that Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are not your typical enterpreneurs.  As founders of the trailblazing software company "37signals" Fried and Hansson turn conventional business wisdom on its head by pursuing rather unorthodox strategies and techniques.  They have little use for planning and detest meetings. They view the world of business through an entirely different paradigm than …
review by . January 10, 2011
Business and branding books glut the market. In fact, I have dozens. But the only one that I consider my "biz Bible"? Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the brilliant founders of 37signals (Basecamp, Highrise, etc.)    I read Rework early last year and benefited enormously. Under pressure by co-workers and colleagues to "tone it down" (paraphrase), my intensity and originality were stifled, and the gradual sacrifice to "fit in" within a small niche culture eroded …
review by . June 02, 2010
These are the two chaps of 37 signals who started Basecamp and a host of other tools. They were also early advocates of Ruby on Rails. A breathless book that runs through the gamut of pragmatic business advice. You will find your self agreeing with them much more than disagreeing. Their comments on software design ( It should be simple, practical, easy to use but often is not) resonated today as I was running through Microsoft Office 2010. sigh, I can see why Open Office is attractive - Microsoft …
review by . April 10, 2010
I'd expected a book of substance, and instead I got a book of aphorisms.    As the founder of a startup, I was hoping to get some insights into how 37signals has achieved so much success. I'd hoped for stories and details. Rework consists entirely of grandiose statements ("Don't be a hero," "Ignore the real world," "No time is no excuse") followed by a couple of pages of explanation in large type. In other words, the purpose of the book is to inspire, not to inform.    That's …
review by . March 24, 2010
If Joseph Schumpeter were to design a "creative destroyer," he would probably come up with a business thinker who bears a striking resemblance to Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. To me, they seem to be iconoclasts who are impatient to build rather than anarchists whose objective is chaos. They quickly indicate a healthy respect for the nature and extent of difficulty when challenging the status quo. But they are not deterred by that difficulty, as their success with 37signals clearly indicates, …
About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #42
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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About this book



ISBN-10: 0307463745
ISBN-13: 978-0307463746
Author: Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
Genre: Business & Investing, Health, Mind & Body
Publisher: Crown Business
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