An excellent look at the work ethic of a very successful software company that does everything according to its own rules.
- Work is not just something you do 40 hours a week, it's work. Maybe it takes 10 hours, or maybe it takes 80 hours a week.
- If you're taking more than 40 hours a week to work, you're not working efficiently.
- Your employees are not 13 year olds... stop treating them like they are.
- Be very slow to hire.
- Growth doesn't equal success, sometimes growth is girth.
- Planning is guessing.
- If deciding between a few people for a position, hire the best writer - clear writing is a sign of clear thinking and an ability to communicate.
I entered the corporate structure very late in life, after owning my own business, and I've always thought the same way these guys apparently think.
My only complaint, is I would have liked some more real world examples and experiences, but my guess is they originally had more, but pulled stories out to make the book more brief and to the point.
They even say, at one point that in the final draft, they cut the book into half as many words as they had originally wrote.
Mike Chamberlain is an excellent narrator, and really added to the experience.
This book has a lot of good and useful information. Much of the info is actionable. I wish more books were like this, it was short and to the point and didn't spend hours building up to one small idea. I highly recommend this book for both new ideas and as a refresher for forgotten knowledge.
I liked some of the thoughts in Rework. The idea that set company policies equal organizational scar tissue is spot on. Planning = guessing is an original thought. And some of the hiring practices ??? like not hiring "supermen" and working in the position you are filling before you fill it ??? make good sense.
Then again, there are a number of ideas in Rework that are just plain wrong. Smaller isn't always better. Yes, if you make software, small works because once you develop something, the growth comes from incremental sales. And your channel is virtually frictionless. But what if what you sell is time and experience? Then, the fewer bodies you have working, the less money you make. And what if you make pencil erasers? You still need to hire bodies to manufacture, transport and sell your product.
Another idea that's just wrong is the notion that it's better to write a blog and rely on free social media than to use traditional media like PR and advertising. This may be true of some products, and it's especially true of web-based products, but many businesses, like retail, food and manufactured goods, could not function without traditional media. It really depends upon what you are selling.
On top of all this, many of the "observations" that the authors make about business today ??? how meetings are toxic and sampling a product is a good practice, and saying ASAP is meaningless and counterproductive ??? are right out of a Dilbert cartoon. Without he humor. Business people, at least the smart ones, know these things already. There's no insight offered here. Yet the authors treat these subjects like they're the first people to ever think of them.
From the number of times the authors used the words "suck," "sh-t" and "f--k," and the brash, sanctimonious, we're-brilliant-and-your-a-moron tone of the text (and perhaps the narrator shaded that part a bit) the reader is left with a feeling that Fried and Heinemeir are nothing more than a couple of young guys who think they have the business world figured out. But they really don't.
For the record, I use 37Signals products. I think they are brilliant, clean and powerful. But just because a company does a few things right, that does not make them experts on everything.
For me personally, I loved the audio book. Very simple, very direct and full of little pieces of wisdom. However, it is quite industry specific. Some of the principles he speaks about are universal but most are very specific to small businesses and starting businesses particularly in the technology field. That is where I am so I found the book to be exactly what I wanted to hear. I listened to it 3 times over a 2 week period. Again, not for everyone but if you are running a small business, want to start a small business or just want to turn a hobby into some income, he gives great tips to do it. Very practical and to the point.
This is a good for small to medium business in some markets, but in others it is quite inappropriate in parts.
If you want to read this, what you should consider is that the authors are writing about their experience, and their experience is providing online services. That means no stock issues, ability to automatically supply at any time etc etc.
There are also a few parts that when you have been in business a while, you will see the obvious contradictions. My favourite was that you have to speak your mind and say if something is no good, but an earlier comment was avoid office politics at all costs. Now there's a contradiction. Telling someone there project is to be canned means that egos will be bruised and you will have to enter into office politics or they will quickly leave!
Another small company centric point was, trying out potential employees by giving them a short term contract. If you work in a large company, the job is often not contractable, so there is no way you could do this.
As I say, and interesting read, but you need to consider who the authors are, and where their experience in business comes from.
This book is so funny and well read by Mike Chamberlain. He understands to get the direct language from the book out in the meaning it was meant to be. The book itself is very inspiring and brings up lots of issues that new start-ups or stressed-out employees face and could help them to focus and get their jobs done without the stress involved.
I enjoy 37 Signals' SVN blog, and there is no doubt they've had a tremendous amount of success doing what they do. However, as a casual reader of their blog, Rework appears to be a rehashing of previous points made via SVN, and comes off as a little too preachy for my taste. Still there are some nuggets in here to enjoy, and it's a very short listen.
If you have spare credits I wouldn't hesitate to download this book, but in my opinion there are many more credit-worthy titles to choose from.
I love 37signals and a lot of what they stand for. This book is consistent with their brand and positioning... and I appreciate that. It's a motivational huzzah for being reasonable in how you work. It's confirmation that you CAN just make a great product and do good business and be profitable. It speaks plainly and cuts through a lot of the crap in our start up environment today.
It's absolutely worth a listen, but you might not come out on the other end having experienced some sort of cathartic epiphany about work either.
mostly nonfiction listener
The first book that I'm going to give to my learning and technology team is Rework, by the guys from 37Signals.
288 concise pages - or less than 3 hours in unabridged audio format. We need more books to be this good and this short.
37Signals is best known for its simple, cloud based project management tool Basecamp.
I'm a Basecamp client, and have been using the tool productively for a few years now. If you have ever had to do a project with MS Project, or solely by e-mail and spreadsheets, than you will appreciate the simplicity, elegance, and flexibility of Basecamp.
The founders of 37Signals developed Basecamp to manage their own internal projects, only then realizing they had a service on their hands that other small teams would find useful. Basecamp requires no support from your central IT organization, no local hardware, and no expertise in project management. You can be up and running with a free 30 day trial in 60 seconds. Plans start at $24 a month.
Basecamp is not just a product but also a philosophy. Less features well done are better than many features that complicate a product. Offer services that are lightweight and agile, and resist the urge to meet the needs of every customer. Let your customer outgrow your product. Basecamp is the physical (or digital?) manifestation of the philosophy of work that 37Signals is selling in Rework. The company prides itself on keeping operations lean, costs down, working arrangements flexible, and paid marketing to a minimum. If you work for 37Signals you don't attend many meetings, don't write many strategic plans, and don't give many internal presentations. You are expected and encouraged to carve out quiet time for productive work, to share your work product early and often, and to be open to criticism.
What you are not expected to do is work insane hours, sacrifice family or sleep time, or set unrealistic deadlines or goals.
It could be that 37Signals got lucky with Basecamp, and are falling into the fallacy of assuming that their work culture is an optimal culture because it produced Basecamp. The other products from 37Signals, Highrise (contact tracking), Backpack (Intranet), and Campfire (code sharing) have not enjoyed nearly the same level of success as Basecamp.
We know from Leonard Mlodinow's book, The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, that we all under-estimate the role of chance in our successes and failures. Nor is the advice in Rework particularly original. Experts like James O'Toole have long been recommending more flexible and less hierarchal workplaces.
What is different about Rework is that the founders of 37Signals are pitching their ideas at a level that can work with small teams on the sorts of projects and tasks that we all do. Anyone in charge of rolling out and supporting new learning technology services will benefit from reading Rework. You don't need a top-down re-org or permission from your leadership to make our products and team interactions more like those of 37Signals. We are all in some measure complacent in meeting cultures , reliances on committees, and the putting off of "shipping" new services until that mythical time the platform meets everyone's needs.
Rework should provoke a good discussion of how your team does things differently from how the team at 37Signals approaches tasks. In the end you may not decide to adopt all of the recommendations in Rework, but I guarantee that this book cause you to take a hard look at how your group operates.
Any Basecamp users want to jump in on the service? What do you think about the idea of writing a short book like Rework that spells out your work culture philosophy and the thinking behind the services you offer?
The part about doing something original rather than copying although not in and of itself an original thoughts is true as so many online fall into the trap of wasting time on affiliate marketing and similar pursuits. Also the comment that copying is better than doing nothing at least its the start of an education. Thats true too. What I dont like is the fact it seems like a preach on how the world works in business when in fact the whole story is so patently 37 signals its not a joke. I mean there is no right solution for every business. Every business is different and to assume there is one way is stupid. I mean to say advertising doesnt work is bull. It is the best option for many businesses. Just because blogging worked for you doesnt mean thats what will work in every business. It wont work for say a company that sells nuts and bolts online. Why? Cause its boring as shi%. 37 signals happens to be in productivity which is a market that interests many people online. So one size definatel does not fit all. Also to say dont get funding is also very very naive. Sure if you can start a web app with a few people and you happen to be lucky enough to have money to out in great. But if you need to grow your business and you have traction but not enough without resources ie staff upfront because your business is capital intensive and needs to get to a certain critical mass to make it work then yes go and get funding. Of course you should not go out and get funding if you dont need it...der fred.
Its not original and it preaches
narrator was fine
newbies in affiliate marketing - get out!
Yeah there is nothing new here and I dont agree with their small minded ideas