Book Review: Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
I’ve just finished reading Rework. I follow the 37Signals blog pretty closely and agree with most of what they say, so I (like many, many other people) have been eagerly anticipating the publication of this book for several months. I read their last book, Getting Real, and loved it.
What did I like about Rework? At it’s heart it supports lean and agile concepts really well. The authors advocate working at a sustainable pace, a lack of detailed, long-term planning, going for quick wins, and making decisions as late as possible, for example.
It’s also an easy read. I read it mostly during my commute to and from work, so in 20 minute blocks, and I got it done in a few days. It’s easy to absorb and is written in a casual style (another lesson from the book: “Sound like you”). Each chapter is broken into discreet essays which I don’t think ever exceed three pages. It’s a great way to break up a book.
The most important thing: they’re right. They take apart so much of what goes on in a typical business environment and tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. They tell their readers that things can be done better and simpler. I think it would take a lot of courage to follow everything they suggest — and in a lot of companies it would be impossible without great leadership at the top, but I’d be surprised if there aren’t a few things anyone can take away and start using, even in the most structured corporate environments.
One thing I found frustrating was that it was a little too light on details for my taste. It felt thin (which I suspect is something they were going for). In rare instances they would back up their statements with examples from other companies, which helped to add some weight to what they were saying. I would have loved to have seen more of that. That ‘thin-ness’ presented many of the things they write about an almost off-handed nature, which undermined some valuable ideas.
I’ve read reviews describing Rework as a recipe book for running a business. I would disagree, it’s not a recipe book. I think it’s closer to a philosophy book. I also think there may more to the book than I got out of my first reading — I have no doubt I’ll pick it up again in a few months and have another look.
Overall, an excellent read — especially given the low time commitment. With so much packed into it, why wouldn’t you read it?