37signals’ new book Rework is a fast, inspiring read for anyone who’s thought about starting a business but froze at the idea of quitting their job, getting investing, and working 24-hour days.
As they do every day at their blog, in Rework the Signals break down their minimalist philosophy into a series of essays written in uncompromising language. Expect a table of contents full of sections entitled things like “Learning from mistakes is overrated,” “Planning is guessing,” “Outside money is plan Z,” “Throw less at the problem,” “Skip the rock stars,” and “Meetings are toxic.” While it’s billed as a business book, at its core Rework is a get-up-off-your-ass, stop-talking-and-start-doing book–a productivity book that uses 37signals as its main case study.
People who follow 37signals online know that they are opinionated and contrarian–sometimes to the point of abrasive. At least one person thinks their small business philosophy is downright dangerous. Personally I give 37signals credit for having a strong point of view, a well-executed shtick, and for having shipped some fantastic software products. (At Lifehacker we lived in Campfire.) My advice? Take the book with a grain of salt. After reading it you don’t have to cancel every meeting you have at your company. But, if you shorten a few, you’ve gotten something out of it.
To get a taste of how the book reads, download this PDF excerpt with essays on why workaholism, business plans, and meetings don’t work. The book is available today in bookstores and on Amazon.
Take the book with a grain of salt? Really? Why?
I purchased the audio version of Rework this morning and am about 2/3 of the way through the book. So far, I agree with most of their (37s) platitudes. The book seems to be the younger sibling of Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin.
Both Linchpin and Rework are worth far more than a simple grain of salt.
@iamkevinjohnson The reason you take that book with a grain of salt (and pretty much any book that purports to tell you how to run your business better) is because what works in one situation may not work in another.
Their claims that this is what they’ve done for 10 years and it’s worked is fine; it worked for them. When Jack Welch made Six Sigma all the management rage in the mid 1990’s, everyone followed that too. Did it make businesses more profitable or better? For some, sure. For others, it was a waste of time.
Do I agree with the points in the book? Yes and no. I think some of the points are very general. Are meetings toxic? No agenda, pointless meetings are, sure. Should you not write a functional specifications document for your software? If you’re the only one building it, maybe you don’t need it, but if you’re in an organization with stakeholders and employees…you’re going to want to listen to their needs and get sign off on what you’re doing.
Ask 10 successful business leaders what works for them, you’ll get 10 different answers. Put those 10 in a room, they’ll agree on three general ideas that make businesses work better. Implement those three ideas, and maybe only half of one works for you.
My philosophy? Take it all in with a grain of salt, and adapt the ideas as needed to work best for your company or situation.