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Book Review: Rework

Rework - Change the way you work forever

Thought Provoking and insightful


Jason Fried

Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs who want to get out, and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable inspiration and guidance in these pages.

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Why I read this book?

I initially read this book a few years ago - my amazon order history states I originally bought this book back in 2011 - so I probably originally read it around that time.

Despite the confusion on the dates, I can still clearly remember that the book did have a very profound effect, on how started to view the world of work and careers in general.

At the time, I was working in London but was doing one of those crazy commute jobs. My commute each was an hour and a half, each way on a good day if the gods of the British rail system & London Underground were smiling. Sadly, they didn't smile often, so my commute in all likelihood stretched out to 2 - 3 hours each way.

I was leaving home at 6 in the morning and only getting back home around 8 in the evening. The job itself was Ok, but the commute was just killing me slowly.

It was on those commutes I read this book and realised then what a complete waste of time and life commuting is. Shortly after reading this book I started to turn things around, and basically just started restructuring and rethinking my approach to work.

Currently, I am revisiting books that have had a significant effect in an experiment to find out if they will still have an effect. The two books that had a big impact on me back then was Rework - Change the way you work forever and 4 Hour work week - Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

What I learned from this book

One thing I remembered from this book from the original reading is what may first have seemed a rather innocuous statement, but after you sit and think about it really makes sense.

planning is guessing

I remember at the time, shortly after reading that line and making a note in my journal, I was in a planning meeting, whereby we were going to plan the development of a new line of business application. Apparently, it was our team's job, to come up with a plan and estimate the time it was going to take for delivery and provide a budget.

To cut a long story short, it was all a farce because basically management had already guessed a number and basically wanted us to come up with a guess to see if their guess was right. The trouble was our first guess, was way off the mark, in that we had added 1 to many zeros to the end. Management didn't like that, so they told us to rework the figure. Which we did 3 more times before eventually, management decided that they were going to use their figures as a guideline.

It just so happens, I decided that the conditions for my success were available, therefore decided not to extend my contract and in fact, voluntarily terminated it slightly earlier.

It was then, I realized that most of Corporate life is just complete garbage, consisting of pointless corporate politics and "power games".

I caught up with those colleagues I was worked with a few years later and we just so happened to discuss the project in question. It turns out the project in question turned out to be a failure and ended up costing twice as much as management forecasted without actually delivering. Mostly due to unforeseen circumstances.

What I liked about this book ?

A constant theme throughout the book is the debunking of long-established myths on how business is best done. For example, most business gurus would say that you only learn by making mistakes and experiencing failures, whereas Fried and Heinemeier Hansson believe that it is our successes that we learn most from and that failure as a means of learning is overrated. Which also incidentally, matches to what Eric Ries states in his book, The Lean Start-Up

The Lean Start Up

How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

The authors also attack the notion of workaholism and the concept that in order entrepreneur to be successful he needs to have a multi-million dollar empire.

In my opinion, the overriding message of this book is to just get on with it and create something. It includes solid advice on how to be productive and, most importantly, how to get projects finished. 

The authors attempt to highlight some of the reasons for projects being completed late or not at all and give practical pointers for the small business owner on how they can out-manoeuvre the big corporates.

What I didn't like about this book ?

The book can be very opinionated and I certainly don't agree with everything the authors say, but it's by far the most useful and provocative business book I've read in recent years. It is still worth a re-read!

Why I recommend this book

After re-reading this book, I feel the authors still have some valid viewpoints and perceptions on the world of work, some I think most people should take note.

In my opinion, in order for humanity to survive we have to re-imagine and innovate work. It is obvious our current approaches just aren't scale-able and sustainable. The concept of building mass transportation systems, road infrastructures, sprawling metropolises etc. all to cater for work. Trying to centralize people to specific locations in the vain hope that this promotes collaboration.

Rework, is not just about an approach to building distributed teams, it is primarily about thinking out side of the box when it comes to work in general. This is a must read book for anyone who wants to start thinking differently about how they approach the world of work.

The key for the reader is to realize that the book contains a set of principles, that the author(s) have applied to their business and culture, they are not saying these are hard and fast principles that everybody should apply to building their business. Being able to take their principles, evaluate them, and mold it to your individual business model with a strategy that fits. If you can't do that -- you're going to hate this book. It's not going to tell you what to do -- it's giving you some fundamental principles you can or possibly apply. Not all of these principles will work for every business. It would be foolish to think they would.

Gary Woodfine
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