Working with Rework


I recently read Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson and did a presentation for the e3 gang.   

First let me say that I was skeptical.  Although we are huge fans of Basecamp and Highrise, the one time I heard Jason Fried speak, he was out of touch with his audience and touting his experience with 37 Signals as if it was gospel.   He told a room full of ad agency account people that project managers were completely unnecessary.   Awesome if you are a 9 person web application company.  Totally different if you are professional services and have to deal with large projects, multiple stake holders and hourly billing.  True the org chart should be as flat as possible, but no flatter.   

This is the context in which I started the book.  Honestly there are some great new ideas, and I was happy to find some of the ideas Elevated Third had already put in practice.   And as I expected some ideas were way out of context or just way out.   

The nice thing though is that the ideas are presented as 90 discrete 1-2 page thoughts.  Almost encouraging you to mix and match.  

So for the presentation,  we went through all 90 in rapid fire sequence and as a group we either said, good idea, we already do this, or shenanigans.   I won't go through all 90 here  but here are the highlights of each category. 

Good Idea

Be a Curator

In a museum, there is a lot more stuff off the walls than on them.  In your company you should constantly be looking for ways to remove, simplify and streamline. 

Focus on what won't change

The core of your business should be built on things that people want to do today and will want to do ten years from now.

Don't Copy

Sometimes copying can be part of the learning process however in this cut and paste world sometimes copying can be more nefarious.  The problem with this type of copying is it skips understanding. 

What We Already Do 

Don't Scar on the First Cut

The second something goes wrong, the natural tendency is to create a policy. "Someone is wearing shorts!? We need a dress code!" No you don't.  You just need to tell John not to wear shorts again.

Illusions of Agreement

The problem with abstractions or reports is that a hundred people can read the same document and come up with a hundred interpretations. 

Out-teach your competition

"Buying people's attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing.  Earning their loyalty by teaching forms a whole different connection.   They'll trust you more. They'll respect you more. Even if they don't use your product they will still be your fans."


Meetings are Toxic

Rework goes through and outlines all the ways that meetings can waste time and be unproductive.  Granted bad meetings are toxic.  Rework argues that a 1 hour meeting with 15 people uses up 15 hours of productivity. Granted, however I would argue that a 15 minute meeting can resolve issues that have been bouncing around Basecamp for days. Sometimes it takes the interested parties in a room together to bang out a solution.  

Planning is Guessing

This theme comes up often in Rework.  "Just Do Something" is another way they say it.  "Hire Managers of One" is another way.