This book, Rework, caught my eye a year ago, but I had never gotten around to reading it. Emblazoned on the front cover is a quote, “Ignore this book at your peril.” Statements like these could always be indicative of dogmatic fanboyism. Nonetheless, the reviews praised this collection of (for the lack of a more appropriate word) pericopes that offer advice to handling many of the daunting challenges facing beginners to the world of business.
Rework, for those who are unfamiliar, is written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, two of the key people behind the company 37Signals. Hansson is rather acclaimed for his work in developing Ruby on Rails, although this book doesn’t discuss his exploits in this endeavor. Nonetheless, 37Signals boasts project management software (Basecamp), contact management software (Highrise), and group collaboration software (Campfire). 37Signals has made quite a name for itself, not simply from the book Rework (or from any of its other books), but from the pervasiveness of their three simple tools. The book Rework channels much of Fried’s and Hansson’s personal experiences from growing 37Signals.
The content of Rework is divided into sections that deal with different phases of company development. From dealing with Promotion to Culture, it covers the many complex facets of a fledgling company. These meticulous parts of a company are not endemic only to software development companies, as Hansson and Fried attempt to make a book adaptable to any other enterprise with similar intentions. Now while these complex facets are covered, the book is by no means a tedious, rigorous textbook for starting a business. Rather, it is laced together with short summaries of advice, often intertwined with useful tips and memoirs. Often, Fried and Hansson cite their experience working at 37Signals as objective evidence to back their wisdom. This, coupled by terse, straightforward dialogue, present a very readable and informative book.
Now, with this idea in mind, it shouldn’t be perceived that Rework is the end-to-end solution of the entrepreneurs of the world. There is some wisdom that can be interpreted as sheer arrogance or some advice that can be founded on 37Signal’s “luck” rather than reasoning or logic. In some cases, the book takes a turn to a point where it almost is shouting at the reader, “Ignore conventional wisdom!”
Yet, “Ignore conventional wisdom,” is not a suitable replacement for this book. It is, nonetheless, a very informative read that can open another perspective to starting a company. The memoirs and simple, straightforward messages it offers still leave the reader with a clearer sense of direction, in terms of starting a company. But, it should not be the only source of advice that a fledgling entrepreneur should refer to, but rather one of a handful of selected books.
All-in-all, Rework is a very well written novel. It is a must read for anyone entering the business fray. Its insightful, sometimes unconventional advice is conveyed in a simple, straightforward manner. But beware, the advice may not always be logically sound; I encourage any reader to fully consider a supposition made by the book, and analyze the proposition carefully. The authors put a lot of care into this compilation, as their passion shows in their short, terse, memoirs. Enjoy!