Rework: There Isn’t One Right Way To Work

March 31, 2010

The morning before my copy of Rework arrived, Josh (my co-founder) and I were joking about how we seemed to be breaking all the rules for startups.  Josh was making the final preparations to move back to Boston.  We aren’t seeking funding.  And we haven’t been working 100 hour weeks.

Rework, by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson of 37Signals,  is a reminder that there isn’t one right way to work.  It challenges many popular ideas of working and startups in a series of 2-3 page entries.  I was pleased to see entries like:

  1. Workaholism: “Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done.  It just means you work more.”
  2. Outside Money is Plan Z: “No matter what kind of business you’re starting, take on as little outside cash as you can.  Spending other people’s money may sound great, but there’s a noose attached.”
  3. The Best are Everywhere: “Our headquarters are in Chicago, but more than half of our team lives elsehwere… Geography just doesn’t matter any more.  Hire the best talent, regardless of where it is.”

I saw Jason Fried interviewed yesterday on Mixergy.  I was impressed with his radical approach to business.  But I did have some feedback after reading the book and seeing him live.  First, he says not to quit your day job for your startup, but he split client work with his projects, which wasn’t exactly a full-time job.  Working at Microsoft full-time while also working on LazyMeter was a very different experience, and I found I had to leave Microsoft to be successful.  Jason didn’t work for a large company, so I wonder if his recommendations will scale (while everyone at Microsoft complains that there are too many meetings, they’ll never be cut down).  I was also disappointed when the interviewer asked Jason to talk about lessons learned from mistakes – Jason responded that people should focus on successes, not failures.  But clearly there are lessons to be learned from mistakes.  In an interview situation, someone who says they have no weaknesses or failures will rarely get the job.

Rework is a great quick read.  I read it in one sitting.  I recommend it for entrepreneurs, managers and employees.

(Update 10:45PM – added link to Mixergy inteview)