March 11, 2010

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Rework

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 9:21 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Crown Business, 288 pages, $22.00, Hardcover, March 2010, ISBN 9780307463746

I’m usually the first responder to new books that come in the office, but this book created much internal excitement even before I got my hands on it. The galley that is currently on my desk is quite beat up already from use. My conclusion after reading it is: if you are an aspiring business book author and wonder what a good business book looks like, Rework is the example to study.

The book offers short, direct chapters written by two guys who have actually walked the walk. Fried and Hansson created and run a company called 37signals, supplier of Highrise, Basecamp and Backpack open source software that we at 800-CEO-READ use everyday. The products they created stemmed from their own company’s needs. By creating their own tools, they could then envision a company as they wanted it to be—with no constraints. 37Signals is not large; in fact, it is intentionally small. Small, comfortable, and profitable.

The insight Fried and Hansson share in Rework, written in contemporary language that is both accessible and exciting, is wisdom that took me forty years to learn. I cannot over-emphasize its value. Here is an example from the section on hiring.

Hire when it hurts

Don’t hire for pleasure; hire to kill pain. Always ask yourself, What if we don’t hire anyone? Is that extra work that’s burdening us really necessary? Can we solve the problem with a slice of software or a change of practice instead? What if we just don’t do it?

Similarly, if you lose someone, don’t replace him immediately. See how long you can get by without that person and that position. You’ll often discover you don’t need as many people as you think.

Many of us try to strategize far out into the future. And while there is a time for that, what I appreciate about Rework is its pragmatic nature, its emphasis on the problem at hand. This is an important book for businesspeople. Rework is practical, offering logical ideas that are instantly applicable to the solo entrepreneur, the team leader, or the company owner.