Don’t read this book. Spend your 10 euros on drugs or hookers or alcohol and have some fun in life instead. – Goodreads.com Review

That review is a bit harsh but I have to admit that the writers laid it on thick when they promised on the cover that the book will “change the way you work forever“.

The book is mostly a collection of blog posts available on the Medium Blog named Signal vs. Noise. The blog is managed by 37signals, the creators of Basecamp, an excellent project management tools that we happen to use at the office. It is a quick and easy read that you can finish while on a short trip or flight like I did. Don’t be fooled by the 270 and something pages. The book is packed with illustrations making it look a lot like a coffee-table book.

The book does provide a few actionable and useful takeaways but the problem is that 70% of the book contradicts the foundations of usual business practices with the sole argument that it worked for their project – Basecamp. The book includes some organizing and planning tips borrowed from “The ONE thing” book written by Garry Keller.

Rework is suited for a large pool of people from digital industries and not just for CEOs.

Book Content – Spoiler:

Ignore the real world –  Trust your guts when it comes to a fresh idea and ignore the pessimistic answers people give you when you share a fresh idea.

Why grow? – Growing is not always a good idea and success is not measured by the number of your employees.workaholism-reworkWorkaholism – Don’t perform employee assessments based on the number of hours they work. Sometimes people try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force while creative employees find elegant solutions to finish faster.

Scratch your own itch – Sometimes when you solve your own problem with a product you know exactly what the right answer is. Track coach Bill Bowerman decided that his athletes needed better, lighter running shoes so he poured rubber into the family waffle iron. This is how the famous Nike waffle sole was born.

You need less than you think – There is nothing wrong with being frugal in the beginnings. It doesn’t have to be a garage as you hear in all start-up success stories but you can start working on your idea with the minimum resources required in order to get going.make-a-dent-universe

 

Make a dent in the universe – Get involved and start projects that will make your efforts feel valuable. It doesn’t take a huge team to accomplish that: Craiglist demolished traditional classified-ad business with just a dozen employees.

Start a business, not a startup – A startup is a magical place for a short period of time where the business physics don’t apply but it is a fairy tale. Revenue in – expenses out. Startups sometimes ignore this reality. Start and act like an actual business from day one.

Building to flip is building to flop – Don’t go into a relationship planning the breakup. Focus on a commitment strategy instead of your exit strategy. Focus on getting customers to love you instead of who’s going to buy you.less-mass-rework

Less mass – When you start you are the smallest, the leanest and the fastest you will be. Mass is increased by: long-term contracts, excess staff, meetings, permanent decisions, long-term road maps, office politics, thick process etc. This is the best perfect to change direction easily if needed to pivot. The bigger companies meet instead of doing.

Embrace constraints – Constraints are advantages in disguise. When you have limited resources you are forced to do with what you got and find cheaper, creative solutions to existing problems.

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Start at the epicenter & Ignore the details early on – Start with what you have to do not with what you could do or want to do. Ask yourself “If I take out this part would I still have a product to sell?!”. If not, then that is the part you should focus on.

Making the call is making progress – Don’t put off decisions. Commit to making decisions.

Be a curator – You don’t make a museum for putting up all the art in a single room and the best restaurants in the world have just a few dishes in the menu. Constantly leave things out, simplify and streamline your services and products.focus-on-what-wont-changeFocus on what won’t change – Don’t focus on the latest trends. The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change.

Sell your by-products – Sometimes you don’t make just one thing. involuntary you have a by-product. Try to realize what that by-product is and sell it.

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Launch now – Don’t waste time thinking your product is not 100% ready for the real world. Customers ‘ feedback will help you make it perfect and some problems can be solved along the way. For example, when Basecamp was launched, they didn’t have a billing solution but they were going to bill customers after 30 days. They had a whole month to find a solution to this problem.

Interruption is the enemy of productivity – Set half a day for some alone-time or maybe instead of casual Fridays set no-talk Thursdays.

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Meetings are toxic – They drift off-subject. They require preparation.  Sometimes they lack a certain goal. Meetings procreate. Always be sure it is worth to trade a few hours of productivity for an hour of meetings. Set a timer. Always have a clear agenda. Begin with a specific problem. End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.

Good enough is fine – Sometimes any solution that solves a certain problem is acceptable even if it is inelegant or not the perfect one.quick-wins-reworkQuick wins – Momentum fuels motivation. Accomplish small victories along the way to a bigger goal.

Your estimates suck – Humans are really bad at estimating. Stick to predictions on the short term.

Long lists don’t get done – Break long lists into smaller lists. break a 100 tasks list into 10 lists of 10 tasks for example.
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Don’t copy – Copying skips understanding and without understanding, you can’t grow. The copy is a faux finish.

Deccomoditize your product – Make yourself part of the product/service so that other people can’t copy your business. For example, any employee at Zappos spends four weeks on a customer support training taking calls from customers in order to understand Zappos devotion to customers.

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Pick a fight – If you think a competitor sucks just say it. It is one way to differentiate yourself and get others to rally on your side. Just think about the BMW and Audi advertising campaigns mocking each other.

Underdo your competition – Don’t get involved in a cold-war with your competitors trying to one-up them. Solve the simple problems and leave the nasty problems to the competitors. Just think how the fixed-gear bicycles have boomed in popularity in the detriment of high-tech mountain bikes with lots of gears and suspensions.say-no-rework-fordSay no by default“If I listened to customers, I’d have given them a faster horse.- Henry Ford”. The customer is not always right and all the features and their demands are not always necessary.

Let your customers outgrow you – Your product should always be appealing to fresh blood.

Be at-home good – Sometimes a product seems appealing in the shop when you get home you realize it is not that good. Smart companies do the opposite. They create products that seem even better after you purchase and take them home.dont-write-down

Don’t write feedback down – Always listen to what customers say but don’t write it down. if something keeps repeating then that’s what you have to change and you most surely remember it.
Build an audience – Companies have customers and fans. The luckiest companies have an audience. Make people want to come back and hear more.

Out-teach your competition – Instead of outspending, outselling or out sponsoring the competition try to out-teach them. For example, Gary V owns a wine shop but he teaches people about wine online at the Wine Library TV.emulate-chefsDon’t be over secretive – All the best chefs in the world share their recipes. Why not do the same in business. Show people how you do it. People are curious how things are made. They’ll feel a bond with you.

Press releases are spam – Everybody does them, they are tired and formulaic. You have to stand out. niche-over-mass-media-rework

Niche media over mass media – Promote your business in the niche media that suits your business. It’s cheaper and more effective.

Emulate drug dealers – Give a little away for free in order for customers to see the value of your product. everyone-on-the-frontlines-rework

Marketing is not a department – Everyone in your company should be doing 24/7. Accounting is a department.

Strangers at a cocktail party – At a cocktail party everyone is a stranger and stiff. There is a lot of small talks. Build an environment where everyone feels safe enough, to be honest when things get tough.  Hire slowly.do-it-yourself-rework

Do it yourself first – Never hire someone for a job without you doing those tasks first. This way you will know what to ask from them and what a well-done job looks like.

Hire managers of one and the better writer – Hire managers that come up with their own goals and need minimum check-ins. If you have to make a difficult decision when choosing among several candidates then hire the better writer. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. bad-newsOwn your bad news – If something goes wrong is should be you that comes forward and informs the public. This way you will not let room for rumors, hearsay or uncertainty.

How to say you are sorry – Don’t use non-apology apology. Real apology accepts responsibility so never use phrases such as “I’m sorry if this upsets you”.

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Decisions are temporary – “But what if …”. Don’t create problems when you don’t have yet. Most of the things you worry about won’t happen anyway and worrying doesn’t change anything either.

Four-letter words – These are some four letter words that you should not use in business because they create a black and white environment and things are rarely black and white. (need, can’t, easy, everyone, no one, always, never)

Inspiration is perishable – Inspiration does not last forever. It is like fresh milk. You can’t postpone inspiration. If you want to do something then you should do it now.