Rework is a string of 88 short essays by Jason Fried and David Heinmeier Hansson – the founders of 37signals.com (we are big fans of their products Highrise, Basecamp, Campfire and Backpack at Bluewire Media).
It’s a gem, so I thought I’d write a one line summary of the 88 to remind me.
If you don’t want to read the lot, here’s the themes I took out of it:
- Never accept the status quo/age old wisdom/rule of thumb without seriously asking “Why?”
- Simplify [I really like Jason Fried’s Twitter credo: It’s simple until you make it complicated]
- Break BIG into small
- Be personal and real
For those who want the details…
Rework reminder list:
- The new reality: You don’t have to work 80hr weeks in an office – you can work from anywhere in the world with people from all over the world.
- Ignore the real world: “That would never work in the real world” is an excuse.
- Learning from mistakes is overrated: “When something succeeds, you know what worked – and you can do it again.”
- Planning is guessing: Contemplate the future, but don’t obsess about it – there are far too many variables to accurately predict it.
- Why grow?: Maybe the right size for your company is 5/40/100.
- Workaholism: “The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”
- Enough with “entrepreneurs”: “You just need an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started.”
- Make a dent in the universe: Make a difference
- Scratch your own itch: Solve your own problem.
- Start making something: Ideas are abundant, execution is what counts.
- No time is no excuse: If you really want something, you’ll make time.
- Draw a line in the sand: Know what you do and know what you don’t do.
- Mission statement impossible: Your actions speak much louder than your words.
- Outside money is Plan Z: Spending other people’s money has a noose attached.
- You need less than you think: How would you do it with $0 to spend?
- Start a business, not a startup: All businesses, sooner or later, have to make a profit.
- Building to flip is building to flop: “You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy.”
- Less mass: Lean business = responsive, quick to change and flexible.
- Embrace constraints: Constraints force creativity
- Build half a product, not a half-assed product: “Getting to great starts by cutting out the stuff that’s merely good”.
- Start at the epicenter: Begin with the stuff you have to do.
- Ignore the details early on: Get the big picture right first – details will come later.
- Making the call is making progress: “Decide and move forward.”
- Be a curator: “It’s the stuff you leave out that matters.”
- Throw less at the problem: Trim down the problem first.
- Focus on what won’t change: Timeless desires, not what’s hot and new.
- Tone is in your fingers: Equipment is often a crutch and never a shortcut.
- Sell your by products: Spot by-products and see opportunities.
- Launch now: Additional features can come later.
- Illusions of agreement: Get real with your ideas – draw, build, hum.
- Reasons to quit: Keep asking: “Why am I doing this?”, “Is there an easier way?”
- Interruption is the enemy of productivity: Switch everything off and get more alone time.
- Meetings are toxic: Agenda, set a timer, few people, be specific, have action items.
- Good enough is fine: Maximum result with minimum effort.
- Quick wins: Smaller tasks + more frequent celebrations!
- Don’t be a hero: Ask for help before investing more time.
- Go to sleep: It helps.
- Your estimates suck: Break big projects into small projects.
- Long lists don’t get done: Make smaller ones and prioritise visually.
- Make tiny decisions: “Small decisions mean you can afford to change”.
- Don’t copy: You can’t lead by copying.
- Decommoditise your product: Pour yourself into your product and everything around it.
- Pick a fight: Taking a stand always stands out
- Underdo your competition: What you don’t do is just as important as what you do.
- Who cares what they’re doing?: Set your own parameters.
- Say no by default: But don’t be a jerk about it.
- Let your customers outgrow you: Stay true to a type of customer rather than an individual customer.
- Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority: Write your idea down, wait a few days, then evaluate priority.
- Be at-home good: Your product needs to get better with use.
- Don’t write it down: Listen to your customers, they’ll keep reminding you when something really matters.
- Welcome obscurity: You can take more risks/test more options when no-one’s watching.
- Build an audience: You won’t have to buy their attention, you’ll have earned it, so they’ll give it to you.
- Out-teach your competition: Teaching = trust and respect.
- Emulate chefs: Share your “cookbook” (your IP).
- Go behind the scenes: Show people how your business works
- Nobody likes plastic flowers: Don’t be afraid to show your flaws.
- Press releases are spam: Be specific and personal with your approach to a journo.
- Forget about the Wall Street Journal: Niche media often produces higher levels of direct activity.
- Drug dealers get it right: Give a little away up front – they’ll come back for more.
- Marketing is not a department: Marketing is something everyone in your company is doing 24/7/365.
- The myth of the overnight sensation: “Trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth.”
- Do it yourself first: That way you’ll understand the nature of the work.
- Hire when it hurts: What happens if you don’t hire to replace?
- Pass on great people: It is much worse to have people on staff who aren’t doing anything meanful.
- Strangers at a cocktail party: Hire slowly.
- Resumes are ridiculous: Use a cover letter and what they’ve actually shipped.
- Years of irrelevance: Experience is irrelevant – what matters is how well they do it.
- Forget about formal education: Classroom smart doesn’t necessarily give you what you need.
- Everybody works: Small team means everyone has to do work, not delegate it.
- Hire managers of one: Motivated people set manage themselves.
- Hire great writers: Clear writing = clear thinking.
- The best are everywhere: Use people from all over the world, then meet in person every now and again.
- Test drive employees: You only really get to know someone when you work side by side with them.
- Own your bad news: Acknowledge, Apologise, Act.
- Speed changes everything: Answer quickly and personally.
- How to say you’re sorry: Accept responsibility, use “I”.
- Put everyone on the front lines: Don’t protect the people doing the work from customer feedback.
- Take a deep breath: Listen to complaints about change then take a breath before you respond/change again.
- You don’t create a culture: You live and breathe it, then it will happen.
- Decisions are temporary: You can change a decision when the circumstances change.
- Skip the rockstars: Create a great workplace, and you’ll attract great people.
- They’re not thirteen: Treat staff with respect and trust – it will be reciprocated.
- Send people home at 5: You don’t need more hours, you need better hours.
- Don’t scar on the first cut: Don’t create a policy straight away – communicate first.
- Sound like you: Write, talk like you do to a specific person/target.
- Four letter words: Easy, Need, Can’t – don’t use ’em.
- ASAP is poison: Save your urgency for when you truly need it.
- Inspiration is perishable: Take it and use it when it’s there, because it won’t be forever.