Mar 27, 2010

Rework book review

Finished reading Rework by Justin Fried and DHH... I highly recommend it... Two thumbs up!

It is unconventional like Getting Real... To gen a sneak peek before you pick it up, check out Fast Company's (pre)view.

As I reflect on the book, I feel inspired. There are many tips that we practice as an organization but many that we need to adopt

My favorite part is how the authors conclude... "Inspiration is perishable. If you want to do something, you've got to do it now... Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won't wait for you"

It was a quick read... took me ~ 3 hours in all (between all the interruptions during the day :)
It was easy to read and hard to put down once I started (read a couple of chapters while walking the streets of midtown Manhattan... I don't recommended it, unless you want New Yorkers to give you a stare when you bump into them ;)

Here's what I was doing while reading this book...
  • I was laughing... yes, laughing... not something you see while reading a book on such a topic but it made me laugh... Jason and DHH have used a casual yet striking style to send across their message
  • I was reading it in 15 minute bursts. Great idea to break the book into many small chapters... the authors took their own advise and broke down a 200+ page book into many 1 - 2 page chapters. Finishing each chapter gave me a sense of accomplishment :-) and was also a great way to leave it at a meaningful point to pick it up again... Small chapters with large actionable titles also made it easy to refer back...
  • I started highlighting some sections in the book and kept a highlighter with me throughout. I ended up marking more than I've ever done in other business books (Yes, all my science books look like my daughter's color book). I marked sections as must-read for my friends, my family and myself
  • I was using it in my conversation (already!). The book is filled with great, actionable tips and "soul-searching" questions. Do you expect anything short of that from the guys at 37Signals? In fact, the insights are so actionable that I requested a couple of team members to read a chapter or two while discussing improvement opportunities
  • I stopped and reflected. "Are you working on your best idea?" and other soul searching questions like this made me search deeper... Inspired me to keep looking...
  • I felt good.... there are some tips that I breezed through smiling as we practice it already in our team (planning is guessing, ignore the details early on, start at the epicenter, meetings are toxic, less mass, embrace constraints, throw less at the problem, launch now, interruption is the enemy of productivity, good enough is fine, quick wins, hire when it hurts, test drive employees, own your bad news etc.)

Parts that will help me re-focus, re-energize, and improve overall...
  • Ignore the real world: "The real world isn't a place, its an excuse. It's a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you."
  • Learning from mistakes is overrated: "What do you really learn from mistakes? ... what not to do again, but how valuable is that? You still don't know what you should do next." "Success is the experience that actually counts"
  • Make a dent in the universe: "What you do is your legacy."
  • No time is no excuse: "...the perfect time never arrives"
  • "Let your latest grand ideas cool off for a while"
  • Build an audience: "share information that's valuable and you'll slowly but surely build a loyal audience"
  • Everything is marketing: "... everyone in your company is doing 24/7/365.... phone... email..."
  • "Instead of explaining what something sounds like, hum it. Do everything you can to remove layers of abstraction."
  • Hire the better writer: "Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking." It reminded me how badly I need to improve my writing skills. As a start, I need to finish the book Jeanine gave me (On Writing Well by William Zinsser)

    Here are some favorite parts...
    • Workaholism: "Workaholics aren't heroes. They don't save the day, they just use it up"
    • "When you don't know what you believe.... everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious."
    • "Scaring away new customers is worse than losing old customers"
    • Out-teach your competition: What a great tip! I became a fan instantly (although I don't use any software products from 37Signals). It actually inspired me to pen down how I felt about the book (something I have'nt done before... so bear with me while I struggle thru my first book review). It reinforced the idea that we can build trust with a large online audience too (one-on-one interactions aren't the only way and I can't use it as an excuse). 
    • Emulate drug dealers: "Make your product so good, so addictive, so "can't miss" that giving customers a small free taste makes them come back with cash in hand"
    • Do it yourself first: "Never hire anyone to do a job until you've tried to do it yourself first." We've practiced this successfully in past and second it completely. For example, before hiring our first Ruby engineer (Matt), Amit and I took time to understand it, try it out on a project for 3 - 4 months. It worked really well (no, not the code we produced but the process of identifying what exactly we needed).
    • How to say you're sorry
    • "Don't create a policy because one person did something wrong once. Policies are only meant for situations that come up over and over again." This reminds me of a public calendar incidence - someone shared (unintentionally of course) official meeting information on a public calendar and boom! - we shut off access to that calendar for everyone. Should we reconsider such decisions?

    This book has passed my test for a great book. My test is pretty simple - Is this a book I would want my daughter to read when she grows up? This one has made it to that list (a list of mostly biographies of world leaders). Yes, the four letter word did not stop me from recommending it to her. Keep up the good work. I'm a fan.


    1. Amazingly written, really inspiring :)

      I really like the Do it yourself first and Workoholism. In all, looking forward to read it!

    2. Wow, fantastic.
      Thanks for sharing Prasoon, really loved reading this. Very well written.

      - Rohan