jeudi 27 janvier 2011

Rework, a new business book

 Lately I heard a little buzz going on about a new business book, Rework, written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson. They are the founders of 37signals, which is a collaborative software company with a few millions of customers out there in the world. I started to read it in the train, between Lannion and Paris, but its great typical-informal-american style of writing, its clear and strong ideas, and its attractive design forced me to keep my eyes on it until I finished it on the road. I will outline some ideas of the book in five themes: Scrum practices, ethical business, good & bad  habits, strictly simple products and culture.

 Through the pages of the book, I noticed that the writers praise alot the agile software development methodology Scrum, without naming it. They insist on the importance of having short term small objectives, and dividing those objectives into small tasks. This way we can build the product by making small "wins", which motivate the employees. Fast meetings are encouraged, and big abstract documents (specs, bla bla..) are highly considered inefficient.
 The second important theme of the book's ideas is the ethical business. According to Rework, the most successful products in the world are those whose creator wanted to solve his own problem (a REAL problem), a product he would use himself, a product that makes difference! Don't copy your competitors, forget them and focus on yourself. Forget all of the traditional marketing techniques, just focus on you product, let it talk for you, let your satisfied customers outgrow you! Stop worrying about growing, this should not be an objective! and specially forget about banks and out-money, try to avoid them to the maximum, because sooner or later they will confiscate the control over your business, and the focus on it, so your business will end up by being ruled by unethical financial logics. Finally, you have to be honest with your clients about your products, about on what can be done and what cant be done, just be your self!
 The third theme is about some good and bad habits at work. Bad habits: Meetings! avoid meetings to the maximum because they are a waste of time; Workaholism! reject working overnights, because it doesnt mean more productivty, but means burnouts; Planning! planning is guessing, so stop planning and start acting. Good Habits: Alone Time! give your self everyday some alone time to avoid interruptions and be more productive; Inspiration Time! start working directly whenever you are inspired, because inspiration doesn't come all the time.
 The fourth theme is about making your product and your company the simplest possible. Simple means less expenditure, clearer, more focus on the core business, on the most important. Simple means less mass, less inertia, more flexibility. This is why the authors advice the readers about working under some prefixed constraints to limit business drifts and avoid complexity.
 The final theme is about the culture of the company. Culture is not some few bla-bla nice words on the walls of the company, its not something that it is decided just after a managers' reunion. Culture is the result of the cumulative behavior of the company through the years. Culture is the sum of all of the decisions of the directors. If we are honest with our clients, our employees will have this attitude, if we are considerate to the environnement, our emplyees will be also. The intersting part of this, is that when you have a company with a strong culture, you never loose your time in taking decisions, because decisions are obvious. A Fair trade label distributor will never take more than 3 seconds to decide whether it should sell a Coka Cola product.

 There are many interesting ideas on other themes, like hiring, identifying by products... but I will not reveal anymore of this book, I strongly recommend you to have a look on it, and as the book cover says: "Ignore this book at your own peril".


1 commentaire :

  1. I did get the audiobook, but I would recommend either option because of its impact. It will help anyone looking to startup or reinvent the wheel. They approach everything "against the grain". This new way of thinking has changed the way I look to start my business and again I can't stop saying good things about it. It's a must read if you really want to get the ball rolling with any new startup.