Rework: An Honest Review of the Book That Breaks the Rules

Earlier this year I came across the book Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, when researching an idea. An article had quoted the book, and I knew from that snippet that it was a must read. Quickly, I got my hands on a copy of Rework, and I can say that overall it did not disappoint.

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Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, offers a new view on what it takes to start a successful business. To explain the difference between this book and others, think of entrepreneurship as having to cross a body of water. Most entrepreneurship books tell you how to build a boat to get across. Depending on the book you read, you might end up with a slightly different boat, but it is still a boat. Rework shows you that while building a boat is what people normally do, it might not be the best way. Yes, you still need some of the basics like an engine, navigation system, crew, and more, but instead of a building a boat like everyone has always done, let’s build a plane and fly.

Rework: An Honest Review of the Book That Breaks the Rules

Why I Liked the Book

 

Short and digestible sections

The number one thing I liked about this book was the format. Like most business books, they had chapters, and sections within each chapter. However, they made each section read like a mini chapter instead of text that needed to be read as a whole to be understood. While the sections might be related, they are not dependent on each other. The sections themselves are short. Most are a page and a half or less of text with the longest being about three pages. A full-page illustration then separates each section making clear breaking points. I love this format as it makes it easy to pick up and read at any time. My schedule is busy and I do not have a lot of time to read because I have kids that take up my free time. I could bring this book with me everywhere and read a section or two whenever I could spare five minutes. Easily, I could complete a section and I never felt like I was stopping in the middle of a chapter. Also, I never had to go back and reread the previous pages to make sense of what I was going to read next. This format was perfect for reading with kids around or in any situation where you only have short pockets of time.

Modern advice

Let’s face it; most business information has been around for ages. While some of it might still be relevant, not all of it is. Think about it. Companies started today are very different from companies that were started in the same niche 20 years ago mostly due to technological advances. So, if our technology is modern, should not our entrepreneurship advice be modern as well? Fried and Hansson bring us entrepreneurship advice that fits the modern work environment. In my opinion, the chapter on hiring is brilliant, and a lot of it goes against business norms. For example, they challenge the concept that you should require candidates to have so many years of experience. “There’s surprisingly little difference between a candidate with six months experience and one with six years. The real difference comes from the individual’s dedication, personality, and intelligence. …How long someone’s been doing it is overrated. What matters is how well they’ve been doing it.” Then, there is this excerpt about hiring managers that are good at delegating. “Delegators are dead weight for a small team. They clog the pipes for others by coming up with busywork. And when they run out of work to assign, they make up more – regardless of whether it needs to be done.” Overall, the book tells you what can work in today’s environment versus what worked best when our parents might have been starting their businesses. Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Quotable points

Rework has many excellent points about starting a business. What makes their points even better is that they hit the nail on the head with how they communicate these points. They refuse to use an abundance of words; they use the right words. My book is full of highlighted sentences, and I have a page of notes that just consists of quotes from the book. Quotable points are important because they are easier to remember and reference. With everything I need to do and every book I want to read, I do not have time to reread this book over-and-over when I want a reminder on the subject matter. With their wording, I do not have to. I can simply read what I highlighted. Think about it this way. You see pictures containing quotes on social media all the time. Quotes have the power of promoting action without needing to read everything proceeding and following. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Anyone who takes a ‘we’ll figure out how to profit in the future’ attitude to business is being ridiculous. That’s like building a rocket ship but starting off by saying, ‘Let’s pretend gravity doesn’t exist.’”

 

“You’re not going to out-Apple Apple. They’re defining the rules of the game. And you can’t beat someone who’s making the rules.”

 

“If you’ve never given a speech before, do you want your first speech to be in front of ten thousand people or ten people? You don’t want everyone to watch you starting your business.”

 

They give examples

Modern advice and quotable points can only get you so far as a reader. You want to know that the suggestions work. Rework covers this want by providing examples. Some examples are personal to them and their company, while others are of other successful companies. As a reader, I like to know how people have applied the concept. To me, it shows that the book is not just full of whiteboard ideas that could work if implemented but instead full of ideas that have been tested. Knowing that they ideas have been tried before helps to produce the confidence needed to apply the advice. The examples help to move your thinking from “I do not know if I can do that. It seems like a crazy idea” to “Now I see what they mean. If it worked for them, it should work for me.”

My Dislikes

While I overall like the book and list it as suggested reading for entrepreneurs, the book was not perfect in my opinion. To provide a full and honest review, I thought it was important to include what I did not like about the book. These are my views, and therefore you might not have the same feeling when you read the book.

Motivation quickly passed

I finished most chapters of the book saying to myself, “Yes, yes! This is so true, and I need to do this.” Then, I moved on to the next chapter. While I loved what I was reading, the only thing I was truly motivated to do was to keep reading. At no time did I want to stop reading to implement, or figure out how I could personally apply, what I was learning. Now, this might be an unfair criticism point as most business books produce a similar level of motivation. However, the previous business book I read, Turn the Ship Around, was not the norm. Turn the Ship Around produced so much drive that I often found myself stopping to brainstorm between chapters. Would I have included this point if it was not for that previous read? Maybe not, but I wanted to provide an honest review, so I had to add this point because it is an opinion I have. However, since finishing the book, I have gone back and referenced chapters. So, while the book did not produce continued, high-level motivation, it still creates action to this day. Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

I did not agree with everything

There were some points throughout the book that left me left me feeling unsure. Overall, I felt like the book was full of great advice. However, there were some sections that I simply did not agree with due to my experience. For example, there is a section that says learning from your mistakes is overrated. The section has merit as it talks about how you should learn from your successes instead. Learning from what went right helps enforce the correct behavior. However, I do not believe we should not focus on our failures. Should we dwell on them for long or analyze every failure? No, but we should review some failures to see what happened. Otherwise, you might be destined to repeat the action that is not working, or you might miss successful parts within a failure. Overall, for the book, I agree with more than I disagree. That brings up a very valid point about business books in general. Not every piece of advice is going to work for every business and every business owner. Sometimes, we must listen to our gut and do what feels right for us. For any book you read, it is ok to not agree with everything. What makes a book informative book is if you can agree with and apply most of the information you read. Rework is one of those books for me.

Are you ready?

Now it is time for you to rework your ideas on how to start and grow a business. Rework is a must have book for any entrepreneur – new or experienced. It is never too late to start smart or change the ways you have always been doing business.

Idea to Success: 13 Action Steps for Starting a Business

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