“If given a choice between investing in someone who has read Rework or has his MBA, I’m investing in Rework every time” – Mark Cuban, billionaire and co-star in ABC’s Shark Tank.
This is an extremely powerful endorsement for a book and I have to say, It’s absolutely warranted. Rework is an easy, enjoyable read, which I would recommend to anyone that wants to challenge the prenotions in business. The authors are the two founders of 37signals, a successful tech company that has made millions selling Basecamp, a project management software. Rework is specifically geared to those starting a new business or are part of a small business, however the ideas translate easily to careers or life. For this post I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite ideas conveyed in this book but there is a boatload more if you choose it pick it up.
Planning is guessing– unless you’re a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy. Why don’t we call business plans what they actually are: guesses. There are too many factors in today’s world that cannot be built into a long term plan. The problem with long-term planning is once a plan is agreed upon, it is set in stone and will influence all future decisions. We have to be able to pick up opportunities as they come along. Also, the timing of long-term planning is off. We have the most information when we’re actually doing something, not before we do it. Yet we write business plans before we’ve done anything; debatably the worst time to make a big decision.
Why keep growing?– If you’re asked how big your company is, the bigger the numbers, the more impressive, professional and powerful you sound. Why is that? What is it about growth and business? Why is expansion always the goal? What’s the attraction of being big besides ego? What’s wrong with finding the right size and staying there? Anyone that runs or is part of a business that is sustainable and profitable whether its big or small, should be proud. I wrote about this lesson in story of The Mexican Fisherman.
Meetings are toxic– 99% of meetings are a waste of time. They are usually about vague concepts, they quickly drift off subject, no important decisions are finalized, and they procreate (one meeting leads to another). In my experience it always ends up becoming a competition for talking time; a select few share their experiences, not that they give a solution to the problem at hand, rather lets them talk about themselves. In the rare case that meetings are absolutely necessary they should have strict time limits, clear agendas, and one or two specific problems that need to be solved.
Workaholics are stupid– our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic. It’s considered a badge of honor to kill yourself over a project. By opening up yourself to be a workaholic you opt to throw sheer hours at a problem instead of using creative problem solving. The creative solutions that are needed to make your company’s product and processes grow are not realized in this environment. Workaholics hurt morale because they make those reasonable hour working folks feel inadequate. The real heros of the workplace are those who went home early because they figured out a faster way to get things done.
Who cares what competitors are doing?– In the end, it’s not worth paying attention to what competitors are doing. The competitive landscape changes too quickly and it is completely out of your control. Why worry about something that is out of your control. If you focus too much on competition you become more reactionary than visionary; becoming the latter is essential. You have to think differently than your competitors and obsessing over what their latest changes are is a quick way to limit yourself to their ideas.
There are 80+ other ideas discussed in this book- again- highly recommended.