Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

If you have a gnawing suspicion that work sucks, but aren’t quite sure what to do about it, this book is for you. In their recent book, Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson challenge conventional business wisdom and show a better way to make work more fulfilling and less frustrating.

Quite honestly, this is one of the best business books I have read this year. The authors give voice to many of my own thoughts and feelings about work. Moreover, they say it in a way that is direct, pithy, and often humorous. I swear I highlighted every other sentence. In short: This is the book I wish I had written.

The authors’ simple premise is that work does not have to be as complicated as we make it. We gunk it up with too much planning, too many meetings, and too much process and paperwork.

What we really need to do is to stop talking and start working.

The book is divided into ten sections. They cover almost every aspect of business from being more productive to ignoring your competition to creating a healthy culture. Each section is further divided into several short “posts” of about a page to a page-and-a-half.

Here’s a “baker’s dozen” to whet your appetite:

  • Learning from mistakes is over-rated
  • Scratch your own itch
  • No time is no excuse
  • You need less than you think
  • Launch now
  • Interruption is the enemy of productivity
  • Good enough is fine
  • Long lists don’t get done
  • Say no by default
  • Don’t write it down
  • Press releases are spam
  • Marketing is not a department
  • Send people home at 5

That barely scratches the surface.

Fried and Hansson are young but not inexperienced. They are the founders of 37Signals, the company that created the popular Basecamp online software for project management and collaboration. They have experienced first-hand the highs and lows that every leader goes through in trying to run a successful business.

As a book publisher, I was particularly interested in the way they wrote the book. In between the next-to-last and final drafts of the manuscript, they cut the book from 57,000 words 27,000 words (see p. 70). This took guts. It also reminded me that, from the readers perspective, brevity is a benefit. This is the pure stuff, uncut with the artificial fluff that fills so many books. I was happy to pay $22.00 for their distilled wisdom.

Note: I gave away 50 copies of the book, selecting the winners from the comments below. However, that opportunity is now over, and the comments have been closed.