I read REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson the founders of basecamp. The book is a series of short 200-500 word ‘sections’ that elaborate on a point. No wasted space or pages full of empty words where the point has already been made. As a result the book flows incredibly well. It is a quick and light read. The ideas in the book are commonsense lessons learned from running a successful small business. A lot of the ideas are shared with agile and the ‘lean startup’ schools of thought. But REWORK is a superior book to the ‘The Lean Startup’. Comparing the two books its clear Hansson and Fried understand the space better.
A few points from the book stuck with me so I will go over them.
Don’t write it down
The top customer complaints will come up so often you will never be able to forget them. You shouldn’t need a long list of customer issues, if you are listening to your customers regularly you won’t be able to ignore the top issues. If you get ten customer complaints each day and five of them are the same issue, you know what to work on.
The myth of the overnight sensation
“And on the rare occasion that instant success does come along, it usually doesn’t last —there’s no foundation there to support it.” — page 196.
I liked this phrasing of the overnight sensation. These days social media constantly spams us with success stories and lavish lifestyles we could be living. But if you are relying on luck to succeed it might not come a second time, and then you don’t have anything left.
Don’t scar on the first cut
Policies are only meant for situations that come up over and over again. You create a policy to make a common problem easier to solve. Without a policy you have to rely on judgement and escalating up the chain of command. That is expensive, but having a policy takes all the flexibility out of the situation. Don’t create policies unless its obvious that the issue is common and thinking about it is wasting people’s limited time.
Four letter words
Don’t use the words “Easy”, “Fast”, etc. Things are rarely done fast or easily. If they could be we would have done it already. Using those words implies things that we probably don’t know.
Inspiration is perishable
If you want to do something, you have got to do it now. You can’t do it later because you won’t be inspired to do it later.