It only took about 10 pages for me to realise I was going to love REWORK! It really describes the kind of business I dream about building. The guys from 37signals have built something truly special. A great tech business with a kick ass team based all over the world. They are working on solving significant problems, and creating a sustainable business.
Like with most success stories one is quick to assume that they have the secrets to success. But like all the Jim Collins books (Good to Great, Build to Last Ect) you have to be careful what conclusions you come too. Only looking at the successes or “survivors” leads to something called survivor bias. It really means that although somebody has been successful with an approach, it does not equal that everybody with the same approach were successful.
But hey these guys make a really sound argument and they bring it across in a fresh and unique manner. They break every chapter into small chuck that takes aim at a specific point they are trying to make. Each point is preceded by a graphic depicting the punch line.
They see Rework as one of the by-products of building there business, and encourage other people building similar business to also look for by-products they can develop and sell to further enhance the sustainability of their businesses. Their thoughts seems to be very much in line with the Lean Startup approach, of launch early and get feedback. Execution is everything, make a decision and get into action.
They argue that business plans, budget and planning is general is a waste of time since we humans are fundamentally bad at making predictions. I agree and wish I learned that lesson much earlier in life. They also have a very refreshing look at raising money in a startup. First they caution – don’t start a startup – start a business! Getting external funding should be the last resort. Instead of looking to build something to flip, focus on building a sustainable business. You will make better decision and if the offer to sell comes, you can handle it.
Another whole chapter that would have been really valuable to me 5 years ago was on hiring. Hiring new people should be the last resort, don’t ever just through people at a problem. They explain a great concept of hiring managers of one! These are people who can manage their own productivity and get things done with the minimum input from their boss. They offer some insight into how to find people like this.
Another constant theme in Rework is around some of the advantages of being small. Like the ability to move quickly, to be free from the bureaucracy that consumes so much energy in large companies. You can own your mistakes, and apologise like a real person without having legal breathing down your neck. You are also able to, through consistent behaviour over a long time, create the culture where great people can do their best work.
Man, I loved this book. I really look forward to create a company based on many of these principles. I don’t think it is possible to read this book and not want to start something to help change the world. You can do it 2!
Start reading Rework today, it is a short, entertaining an easy read.
You can follow the authors of Rework at @jasonfried (Jason Fried) and @dhh (David Heinemeier Hansson) and the company at @37signals