ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is a book dedicated to throwing water on what are commonly though of as business ‘non-negotiables’.
The authors claim authority in their deconstruction right from the start. “This book isn’t based on academic theories. It’s based on our experience.” Friend and Hansson have been in business for 15 years and are the business owners behind the niche project-management software Basecamp, operating under the name 37 Signals. Interestingly, Fried and Heinemeier were also behind a small CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software called Highrise. Once upon a time, I reviewed the software and eschewed the option for something which has since proven to be bloated. I might make that decision differently today.
Although the chapters in the book are presented as a kind of ‘how-to’, it’s obvious that their methods rely a lot on the culture they unconsciously created as a result of being dynamic individuals in a world full of dynamic individuals. In other words, someone who tried to use this book like a manual would probably end up frustrated because they aren’t Fried or Hanssen.
There aren’t any references to grand theories, science, or even much in the way of market data. It’s fairly light reading. However, it’s easy for a business owner such as myself to forget that most things don’t have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. For example, in the industry, wedding photographers are expected to meet in person with their prospective clients. But it’s not wrong to never meet with prospective wedding clients if you can make it work without them. After all, those meetings waste time, money and gas and cloud decision making. I don’t do them, and that’s okay, as long as I find a way that it works without them.
That, I think, was the unstated goal of ReWork–to jar business owners from the conventions they come to assume are cannon.
In the chapters, Fried and Hansson take a healthy stab at disrupting topics like meetings, planning, personal meaning, local capitalism, time management, staffing, production limits, minimum viable offers, pissing people off, being competitive, selling, marketing assumptions and company culture and more.
It was a short book, lasting a total of about an hour and 45 minutes. Although it was a far cry from dense training material, it was an excellent brain tease. It insightfully inspired thought in categories of business that, perhaps, haven’t received much attention for quite some time. I would say for someone who might feel stuck, or stagnated in their business, ReWork would be a great inspiration. Which, I guess is what they were going for, based on the book cover.