Book review: Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are two of the leading lights behind 37Signals, the development company responsible for the phenomenon that is the Basecamp project management tool, amongst other services. A few years ago they self-published the book Getting Real which describes their philosophy and the techniques they use to develop their software. If you only ever read one book on software development, make it that one.
Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever does for business what Getting Real did for software development, shining a 21st Century light on the running of a business. In truth, the advice contained in this book is more applicable to information, software development and online service businesses than more traditional bricks and mortar operations, but there's something here for everyone.
A constant theme throughout the book is the debunking of long establish myths about how business is best done. For example, most business gurus would say that you only learn by making mistakes and experiencing failures, whereas Fried and Heinemeier Hansson believe that it is our successes that we learn most from and that failure as a means of learning is overrated. As is workaholism, the concept of the entrepreneur, extensive planning and any one of a number of other bits of received wisdom.
The overriding message of this book is to just get on with it and create something. It includes solid advice on how to be productive and, most importantly, how to get projects finished. The authors put their fingers on many of the reasons for projects being completed late or not at all and give practical pointers for the small business owner on how they can out-manoeuvre the big corporates.
It's a quick read with each short section covering a specific piece of advice. It's opinionated and I certainly don't agree with everything they say, but it's by far the most useful and provocative business book I've read in recent years.