A few weeks ago when our lead developer and I were discussing Basecamp, an awesome freemium project management web app from 37 signals, he asked if I had read their latest book, Rework. I knew nothing about it, but if it was anything like their software, I knew I should check it out. So to Amazon I went and using our Prime account, the book was on my desk the next day.
First of all, this book is a very fast read, which is refreshing in this age of very wordy business and technology writing. Each point is made briefly, but with real-world examples and sound logic. The major point being presented here is that almost all of the conventional concepts and thought patterns behind the formation, operation and promotion of a new business venture are old, irrelevant and unnecessary.
While reading this book, I began to rethink some of the ways that I run our projects and some of the conventional management styles that myself and others at Agilx employ. For some of us, college was a time when we were first bitten by the entrepreneurial (or ‘starter’ as Rework likes it said) bug. What happens in that situation is that we immediately begin to apply what were are learning in our business classes to the way that we run our businesses. Much of what we apply is just not the best way to do things in a small starter company.
One very powerful aspect of this book is that it contains a lot of actionable advice; things that you can start doing right now to improve your business, your development and your life in general.
One except from the book really hit home as we are such a young and agile company at the moment:
“Embrace the idea of having less mass. Right now, you’re the smallest, the leanest and the fastest you’ll ever be. From here on out, you’ll start accumulating mass. And the more massive an object, the more energy required to change its direction. It’s as true in the business world as it is in the physics world.”
This is a brilliant point, and it holds true. Think about the company you work at right now. Chances are it’s big and there are a lot of hoops to jump through to make a change. I know this describes almost every company where I have ever worked. But we have to opportunity now to be different. This has lead me to plan some changes in the way we do things.
Another area that the book touches on is culture and how the culture of your company cannot be made, but must be organic and built using the results of consistent action.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is even thinking about starting a new business venture, whether it is writing software or selling shoes.