This week I read an awesome book I got as a present from my colleagues of my former company Sixt. I’d like to share some details about some chapters I really liked! The book is called “Rework” from Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – The Founders of 37Signals. Here are the chapters that I found very interesting.
Planning is guessing
In this chapter authors want to make clear that long-term business planning is just a fantasy. Instead of calling it planning they prefered to call it guesses! They describe the dangerous situation of turning guesses into concrete plans. By having these big plans for the future you might lose the ability to improvise or just to change direction quickly. Actually you have the most information when you are doing something, not before you have done it. They don’t want to say you shouldn’t think about your future. They want to say that it is just bad to write it down and insist about it. Anyway, risk might be pretty high that no one ever will read your long-term business plan where you invested so much time. I really want to quote that part:
Give up on the guesswork. Decide what you’re doing to do this week, not this year. Figure out the next most important thing and do that. Make decisions right before you do something, not far in advance.
Some people or organizations might just feel uncomfortable not having the super plan. But it is even more scary to have a plan that does not work out with the reality.
Scratch your own itch
Actually I got the message in this chapter confirmed by an british entrepreneur I met few weeks ago:
You have to eat your own dog food
The authors say that the easiest way to create an awesome product is to make something you want to use! You immediately know what to do (without having the master plan). If you try to solve someone else problem, you will always stabbing in the dark. Or you have to ensure that your solution works by testing it continuously with the users. But why not making a product that convinces you and solves your own problem? Best thing: It makes you passionate about what you are working on!
Mission statement impossible
In this chapter authors are describing the situation of impossible Missions or Visions that organizations in reality cannot handle. They say, that there is a huge difference between really standing for something and having a mission statement that says you stand for curtain values. And even worse it is to have values you can not apply at all. You should not come up with an awesome great customer service vision if you cannot realize it or if you don’t live it!
Some companies tend to write down their mission in order to communicate it to the employees. Reality looks different: Words on a paper are clearly disconnected from the reality. Don’t write it down, believe it and live it. It’s in your hands!
Build half a product, not a half-assed product
In this chapters authors are talking about that it is just not possible to create awesome products if you try to do everything at once. It’s better to have a focus on one thing. That is already hard enough – Doing one thing right! So just forget about doing 10 things at the same time.
So they say, it’s better to sacrifice some potential good ideas for the greater good. And if your idea really is a good one, you can always do it later.
Start chopping. Getting to great starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good
I really liked that chapter because so many Managers want to have their (good) ideas developed as soon as possible. Some things get better as they get shorter!
Focus on what won’t change
Here the authors want emphasize the importance of the focus referring to the core of your business. They explain, that many organizations focus on the next big thing, the latest trends and technologies and just forget about the core. The core might be the most important argument why customers are using the product. Investing to the core is so important.
One of my favorite chapter! So many organizations are fighting with a huge redesign, with a completely new Backend or just with a complete new project. Typically they don’t come up with anything to the customers until they think it is ready – and in their definition “ready” means, that absolutely every feature must be finished in order to release.
I really liked this question of the authors:
If you had to launch your business in two weeks, what would you cut out?
This question forces people to think and re-focus on essential details. Suddenly you realize that there are many features you just don’t need. Put out everything you don’t need for the launch. The rest might be just luxury features. Once the product does what it needs to do, release it! As soon your product is out in the market, you’ll receive feedback. And then you start learning and improving your product by having this feedback in an iterative process. This Feedback Loop will give you everything you need to know in order to continue with the next steps.
You don’t create culture
This chapter describes a very important topic. It’s about culture. I think the authors really got it right:
You don’t create a culture. It happens.
They explain that culture is a by-product of consistent behavior. So you cannot create culture by giving a team a sheet of paper with written values. If organizations want to have an influence on the culture they should be the living example how to live the values they want to have in the company. So if they want to have ‘sharing’ as an important value, then they have to live it first and encourage people to do it also. Then, sharing will be built in into the culture. Culture is not policy – It is action, not words
There are are many other chapters that are really great to read. I love the book because it is very easy to read and makes you re-think a lot.
Maybe the summary of the topics I took out of the book gave you an idea about that book. There are so many other cool chapters that can help you to make a dent in the universe :-)