Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Review: "Rework", 2010, Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

This is a book from the founders of 37signals. The book is full of simple commonsense advice for business and work. Yet these advice are also very fresh. How come?? Since we have been trying/inventing/pushing complex complicated rules & approaches for business and work in lieu of simple straightforward approaches, the simple commonsense advice in the book do come across as surprisingly fresh.

Just to give one example, for culture, the book says: "You can't build it, it occurs. Whatever you value and do (actions speak louder than words), it will become the culture of your company/workers overtime." Commonsense? Yes. But only after you take a step back and think, you say "Huh. That is obvious."

Another after-the-matter obvious advice: Try to underdo your competition, just do fewer things but better. You should stand for something. A strong stand is how you attract superfans. Covering everything means you don't have focus. Provide the main functionality as simple as possible, avoid the bells and whistles, and be unashamedly proud about this.

Maybe the insight behind this advice is you should necessarily have a transformational idea. And when you have that, the auxiliary stuff do not matter that much, and may even distract from your transformational idea.

This next advice is very interesting and stands out in controversial way. The book says: Don't accept outside money for your startup. You will find enough money yourself, if you implement the less is more principle. If you can't fund it yourself, and get it prototype yourself, it is not worth doing it. You are not thinking less is more. When you get outside money, you are bound to make the sponsors/vendors happy and lose your flexibility and freedom for the following reasons: you give up control; cashing out begins to trump building a quality business; spending other people's money is addictive; it's usually a bad deal; you start building what investors what instead of what customers want; raising money is incredibly addictive.

The book got my respect when it said writing is very important. The book says: Hire the guy who is a better writer. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate, empathize, and know what to omit and what to stress.

For the writing style, the books says: When you are writing, write with your own voice. This is also a matter of honesty. Honesty is the smart policy in business. So why come of like dishonest when you write artificially. The important thing is to communicate, and you should just focus on that.

The book has so many other commonsense, simple, yet refreshing and radical advice. The book is a very good very easy read. It is written in a conversational style, and you feel like you are having a discussion with Jason and David. And, it seems like the book got very good reviews from business and thought leaders.