Book Review: “Rework” Rocks!

Rework is written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of 37 Signals, a massively successful online software company that produces products used by millions of ...
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Travis McAshan
Published Apr 2010
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In A Nutshell…

Rework is written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of 37 Signals, a massively successful online software company that produces products used by millions of people around the world. Rework is a straightforward, easy-is-better approach to success in business. Within it’s 12 chapters spanning 279 pages, Rework features 88 “brilliantly simple rules for success”, and over 90 pieces of fantastic original hand-drawn artwork.  It was released in March of 2010 and sells for around $15-20.

Is This Book For You?

If you expected more dry advice about business plans, competitor analysis and investment plans you might want to reconsider. That’s because you won’t find business jargon or filler in the pages of Rework, instead there exists a perfect balance of simple yet profound, counter-intuitive yet useful wisdom that not only slaps convention in the face but takes it out behind the shed and unleashes an old fashioned butt whoopin’.

What’s The Point of REWORK?

Rework was written to show the way towards less talk and more work. It’s about being more productive, gaining more exposure, and inspiring and provoking you through counterintuitive ideas. The basic point of view is that most business owners need to embrace the power of LESS. Whether you’re a hard-core entrepreneur, small-business owner, moonlighter, or simply a dreamer, Rework “inspires you to rethink everything you thought you knew about strategy, customers, and getting things done.” (William Taylor, founder FAST COMPANY) Also, if the 279 pages scares you, don’t let it, with the spacious margins, 90 full page illustrations, and large type size, it reads from front to back in about 3-5 hours.

An Approach of EASY is Better

With topics like ASAP is poison, under-do the competition, meetings are toxic, fire the workaholics, emulate drug dealers, pick a fight, planning is guessing, and inspiration is perishable”, you get a “minimalist manifesto that is profoundly practical” (-Scott Rosenberg, co-Founder of Their message of LESS IS MORE is loud in clear with statements like, “do you really need…” or “embrace the idea of having less” or “is it really worth it” and my favorite “it’s the stuff you leave out that matters”. The overall idea is to work with what you have now, start small, launch early, and sort things out as you go. I love it!

Simple Yet Powerful RULES For Success

They chose a very approachable format by breaking the book down into 12 chapters and 88 bite-sized rules for business success. By keeping each point to a few pages or less you get the meat of their ideas one rule at a time. The book flows well from point to point and chapter to chapter as you get drawn into their irreverent tone, engaging opinions, and insightful examples, curse words and all. Additionally, the 90 original hand-drawn illustrations give the book the feel like you’re traversing a journey, where each illustration draws you more into their world and way of thinking. My personal favorite illustration comes near the end of the book as the topic entitled , “ASAP is Poison”.

A Few Examples of Illustrations:

Counter-Intuitive Gone Too Far?

Although I found the vast majority of the book to be an enlightening journey of epic proportions, there were a few thoughts that didn’t sit well in my stomach. Those that stirred my brain for a loop were, “learning from mistakes is overrated”, “good enough is fine”, “say no by default”, “let your customers outgrow you”, and “don’t write it down”. It’s not that I completely disagreed with their thoughts but more their line of thinking. Yes, these particual things worked well for them but there are reasons some ideas are convention, it’s because they tend to work with the majority of people. If I had one critque about the book it would be that just because this unique group of successful people used these principles to achieve success, they MAY NOT necessarily work for you. I suppose the idea is to take these ideas and integrate them according to your capacity to handle the risks associated with the distance you travel from convention.

The Cover Artwork:

About The Authors

The authors aren’t shy about sharing their success with their own company, 37 Signals. To be honest, I can’t really shake a stick at 3 million paying customers in less than 5 years of business. Additionally, they are setting standards for online development by building a programming framework that literally powers much of the Web 2.0 world. In essence they cringe at the thought of being an “Internet” company, bloated and compulsive, instead they think of themselves as a small, frugal, profitable web-based company.

Rework Rocks!

All in all, I believe their intent to “throw out the traditional notions of what it takes to run a business” has been achieved in spades. Not only have they created a KISS manual for business in the new millinium, but they have literally attempted and succeeded at rewriting the rules of business as usual. It’s a refreshing and inspirational approach to business. I’ll conclude with a quote from Seth Godin, “ignore this book at your own peril.”

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