37 Signals’ Rework (Book Review)

Rework
Possibly the most important business book you’ll ever read.

I’m going to start this review off with full disclosure: I’m a 37 signals fan. I like their products and business model, I read their blog and I watch their videos. Obviously, I had pretty high expectations for this book. That being said, it lived up to all of them.

Rework was written by Jason Fried and David Heinmeier Hanson of 37 Signals fame and is what I’m going to call a new business book. It aims to rewrite the rules of succeeding in business with a fresh, down-to-earth approach. In all 12 chapters the authors give advice contrary to everything you’ve been taught about business success. (“Emulate drug dealers? Huh?”) They aren’t saying these things just to be different, though. They make sense. That’s what so promising about this new business crowd. How we’ve learned in the past has been based on trust and tradition; the future is based on logic through proof and transparency.

Rework is a quick read. It has big margins, illustrations, and short rapid-fire sentences. But the amount of experience and great advice is equal to that of a book three times its size. With topics ranging from productivity to progress to hiring to promotion, even to damage control, practicality soaks every page. And nobody could say it better than Jason Fried himself: “Concise is what we do. No one should be reading a business book for days. Read quick and get back to work”.

Rework teaches to be as small (and thus agile) as possible, seek outside funding only when absolutely necessary, and make money rather than spend it.

This book isn’t for everyone, though. Some people’s definition of success is lots of employees, fancy offices and big bureaucratic board rooms filled with executives and departments. Some people love the thrill of finding venture capital. These things go against the efficiency mantra preached here. Rework teaches to be as small (and thus agile) as possible, seek outside funding only when absolutely necessary, and make money rather than spend it. These are the kinds of ideas a profit-minded individual should have lots of fun implementing, and why this book is a must-read for anyone that owns a business, is thinking about owning a business, or even works for a business.

I can’t say it better than Seth Godin did on the front cover: “Ignore this book at your own peril”. The business world is changing and books like Rework are what are going to help you adapt. Because after all, if you stand still while everyone moves forward, you’re going to be left behind.

More information on Rework can be found on Amazon and on the official website. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson can be found tweeting @jasonfried and @dhh respectively, blogging on Signals vs. Noise and doing work as the company that was the basis for this book on 37 Signals.com.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

James Jestes March 25, 2010 at 12:01 am

Great review Matt, I was just introduced to this book today and I have read the preview PDF. I cant wait to dig into this fabulous new resource.

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tejas March 31, 2010 at 6:03 am

I heard about this book yesterday only, and just bought it off B&N. Looks like a very different take on things I have ingrained in my psyche, and hence can be a challenging read. Thanks for this nice review..

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charms June 30, 2010 at 12:52 am

Looks like a very different take on things I have ingrained in my psyche, and hence can be a challenging read. Thanks for this nice review..

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Adam Wozniak August 10, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Hi Matt,

Nice, concise review. I’ve just finished reading “Rework” myself. What a terrific read it was too. As you say, it fits nicely into the category of “new business” books. It’s probably the best one of this sort that I have read so far. Do you suggest any others along these lines?

For anyone interested in reading more about “Rework”, I’ve also written up a review (it’s more of a summary of the book almost!). Check it out at:

http://www.wecancreate.com/blog/entrepreneurship/book-review-rework-by-jason-fried-david-heinemeir-hansson-from-37-signals/

I’ve included some specific examples from the book there. There were just so many great quotes in “Rework”, it was difficult picking the best ones!

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