Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier

What I Learnt from Rework

Introduction

People gave the authors a bunch of advice which sounded like common sense. They turned out to be wrong.

First

Technology has changed the world of work. It’s a new reality.

Takedowns

1. Ignore the real world – ignore people who disparage your idea by talking about the “real world” (a sad, uninspiring space which possibly doesn’t exist). It’s just an excuse for not taking action.

2. Learning from mistakes is overrated – you learn more from success than failure.

3. Planning is guessing - a business plan makes many guesses on things you have no control of. Don’t look too far ahead. Concentrate on what needs to be done now and do it.

4. Why grow? – a small company may be exactly what you want. Growth brings many problems.

5. Workaholism – working long hours is bad for morale, mood and judgment.

6. Enough with “entrepreneurs” – replace “entrepreneur” with the less-intimidating “starter”.

Go

7. Make a dent in the universe – little guys like Craiglist and The Drudge Report can revolutionize an industry.

8. Scratch your own itch – start a business that solves your own problem. e.g. James Dyson, Vic Firth, Bill Bowerman, Mary Kay Wagner.

9. Start making something – execution is everything.

10. No time is no excuse

11. Draw a line in the sand – stand for something and stick with it.

12. Mission statement impossible - don’t bother writing it down, just live it.

13. Outside money is Plan Z – outside money = giving up control + immense regret

14. You need less than you think – embrace frugality.

15. Start a business, not a startup – profit is the goal.

16. Building to flip is building to flop – selling your business may make you very rich but you may never ever find another business you’d love like this one.

17. Less mass – the smaller your business, the easier it is to change and be flexible.

Progress

18. Embrace Constraints – e.g. haiku, The Price is Right, Southwest Airlines

19. Build half a product, not a half-assed product

20. Start at the epicenter – Focus on making the most important thing in your service / product the best it can be.

21. Ignore the details early on – getting the details too early takes away too many resources and disrupts progress.

22. Making the call is making progress – delaying will cause you to lose motivation and momentum.

23. Be a curator – be extremely selective and pick the best (features, ingredients, products) for your customer.

24. Throw less at the problem – solve the problem by making it smaller, e.g. Kitchen Nightmares trimming the menus.

25. Focus on what you won’t change - build your business on what will always be in demand. Don’t follow fashion.

26. Tone is in your fingers – worry about content, not the gear.

27. Sell your by-products - your by-products can be big business.

28. Launch now - deadline brings clarity.

Productivity

29. Illusions of agreement - avoid abstraction. draw and make things to increase understanding.

30. Reasons to quit – sometimes quitting is the right thing to do.

31. Interruption is the enemy of productivity – get alone time. respond to a request at a time convenient to you.

32. Meetings are toxic

33. Good enough is fine

34. Quick wins - great for customers, great for your team.

35. Don’t be a hero - when you’re going it alone and it’s taking too much time, ask for feedback and advice.

36. Go to sleep – lack of sleep causes stubbornness, lack of creativity, diminished morale, irritability.

37. Your estimates suck – break something big into something small where it’s easier to estimate.

38. Long lists don’t get done – break a long list into other smaller lists. Prioritize visually but putting the important stuff on top of your list rather than numbering them.

39. Make tiny decisions - tiny decisions make it easier to get things done.

Competitors

40. Don’t copy – when you copy, you don’t learn and there is no understanding.

41. Decommoditize your product - when you are in your product, competitors will never be able to copy.

42. Pick a fight – standing against a rival will get you lots of attention and can tell a great story.

43. Underdo your competition – do less and win, e.g. Flip camcorder and fixed-gear bikes.

44. Who cares what they’re doing – by focusing on competitors, you dilute your own vision.

Evolution

45. Say no by default – e.g. ING Direct. we often regret saying yes.

46. Let your customers outgrow you – this is a better option than turning off new customers who reject your complicated product.

47. Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority – write down your new ideas somewhere and revisit them later instead of dropping everything to work on them.

48. Be at-home good - make a product that feels great when you use it and not just when you see it at the store.

49. Don’t write it down – you don’t have to record your customer’s feedback as you won’t be able to forget the good ones.

Promotion

50. Welcome obscurity – you can afford to make a lot of mistakes when you’re obscure.

51. Build an audience – avoid advertising and build an audience by sharing what you know through speaking, writing, blogging and making videos.

52. Out-teach your competition – teaching your customers give you a huge advantage over the big companies.

53. Emulate chefs – chefs give their recipes away and still grow their business.

54. Go behind the scenes – telling people how you make things deepen your relationships with them.

55. Nobody likes plastic flowers – customers appreciate when you reveal your flaws. imperfection can be beautiful: wabi-sabi.

56. Press releases are spam – call someone or write a personal note instead.

57. Forget about the Wall Street Journal – instead get in touch with a trade publication or a niche blogger.

58. Drug dealers get it right – freebies work.

59. Marketing is not a department - everything you do is marketing.

60. The myth of the overnight sensation

Hiring

61. Do it yourself first -  before hiring, do the job yourself first and it will help you hire right and manage the person better.

62. Hire when it hurts – hire only when there’s a big problem.

63. Pass on great people - hiring people when there’s nothing to do create unnecessary work. there’s enough talent out there.

64. Strangers at a cocktail party - when you hire too many people quickly, it will take a while to build trust in the team.

65. Resumes are ridiculous – the cover letter is more important.

66. Years of irrelevance – years of experience is overrated.

67. Forget about formal education – e.g. 90% of CEOs in the top 500 American companies didn’t come from Ivy League colleges.

68. Everybody works – avoid delegators.

69. Hire managers of one – look for independent people.

70. Hire great writers – if you’re deciding between job candidates, choose the one who writes best.

71. The best are everywhere – don’t miss out on global talent. Have 2-4 hours of overlap working time to keep in touch. See each other once every few months.

72. Test-drive employees – test job candidates’ skills before hiring, e.g. BMW’s simulated assembly line in South Carolina, Cessna’s role-playing exercise for managers.

Damage Control

73. Own your bad news – head of the company should announce the bad news, take control and be honest e.g. Ashland Oil vs. Exxon

74. Speed changes everything – reply to complaints quickly and give a meaningful response.

75. How to say you’re sorry - don’t use the word apologize. sorry is more sincere.

76. Put everyone on the front lines - everyone in the business should connect with the customers to know how they’re feeling.

77. Take a deep breath – people complain when you make changes. Give them time to adapt to it instead of responding immediately. They may grow to like it.

Culture

78. You don’t create a culture – let culture develop over time.

79. Decisions are temporary – a great advantage of being small is flexibility. Don’t worry too much about decisions as change is easy to make.

80. Skip the rock stars - Great work depends on the environment. Create an environment where people are given privacy, workspace and tools that they need.

81. They’re not thirteen – Don’t waste time writing rules. Trust people.

82. Send people home at 5 - people will be more efficient and you’d retain them better.

83. Don’t scar on the first cut – when someone makes a mistake, warn this person instead of creating a policy that will be applied to all staff.

84. Sound like you – avoid jargon. focus on communication and connection.

85. Four-letter words - words like need, must, can’t, easy, just, only and fast impede communication.

86. ASAP is poison – use it only in real emergencies.

Conclusion

87. Inspiration is perishable - do it now because inspiration, unlike ideas, will expire.

lest we forget how fragile we are

James Parker:

Shyness is a tribute paid to the gravity of human interaction, a proper dread at the fact of other people: their closeness, the weight of their existence, their power to hurt, and our power to hurt them. We are delicate creatures, mask it how we will, and we live in a medium of feeling: No chance of forgetting this if you’re of the tribe of the shy.

not just freedom but salvation

Daniel Akst:

Thrift is thus a way to redeem yourself not just from the unsexy bondage of indebtedness but also from subjugation to people and efforts that are meaningless to you, or worse. Debt means staying in a pointless job, failing to support needy people or worthwhile causes, accepting the strings that come with dependence, and gritting your teeth when your boss asks you to do something unethical (instead of saying “drop dead”). Ultimately, thrift delivers not just freedom but salvation…

victims of harassment

ST (April 4, 2010):

Aware’s executive director, Ms Corinna Lim, advises victims of harassment to take two very important steps.

First, say ‘no’. ‘The victim may be feeling uncomfortable, but the perpetrator may not know this,’ she says. ‘She or he must make it very clear, ‘I don’t like this’. Then if the perpetrator continues, there are no excuses.’

Second, inform the human resources department as well as senior colleagues, so that appropriate action can be taken. It is also helpful to collect evidence against the perpetrator, she adds. ‘Write down every instance in which this happens. Tell your friends as well. Tape recorders are also quite common.’

3 affordable handymen in Singapore

ST (April 3, 2010):

BEES-MART HOUSING MAINTENANCE AND HANDYMAN SERVICE

Apart from providing the usual handyman services, Mr Ricky Lim can assemble furniture and make flower stands for customers.

What: Installation and assembling of household appliances, furniture, lightings, flower stands; hanging of picture frames, paintings, signboards and mirrors; minor rewiring and painting works

Price: $50 an hour, $300 a day (eight hours), $250 a day for two days or more

Contact: Mr Ricky Lim, 9736-9196

CHEW YAN HENG ELECTRICAL AND PLUMBING SERVICE
A veteran in the repair business, Mr Chew Yan Heng has customers who have passed his contact on to their children.

What: Electrical and plumbing works, installation and repair of home appliances

Price: From $30 for simple plumbing jobs such as replacing taps and pipes

Contact: Mr Chew Yan Heng, 9672-9204

HANDY-TECH REPAIR SERVICES
Transport and examination charge of $10 is waived if you get Mr Roger Ng to fix your home-related problem.

What: Repair and maintenance of appliances such as microwave ovens and washing machines; plumbing services; and general electrical works

Price: $10 transport and examination fee, which is waived if the job is assigned; from $40 for minor problems such as repairing microwave ovens, replacing sewage pipes and clearing choked toilet bowls

Contact: Mr Roger Ng, 9021-0505