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13
March
2017

ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever

Book Review

ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever

Authors: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Publisher: Random House, 2010

Rework is a book about a different approach to work and running a business. It was authored by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson who are the founders of the web application development company "37Signals". Since 2014 the company renamed itself to their successful flagship project management tool Basecamp. The company was also behind the development of the web application framework, Ruby on Rails (RoR). RoR was subsequently open sourced in 2004.

Rework is for anyone thinking of starting a new company or changing the culture and practices at their current place of work. It is a condensation of their collective wisdom and lessons learnt from running successful businesses. Unlike other books that I have read of a similar aim, Rework does not read like an autobiography with a few punchy pieces of relevant advice and lots of padding otherwise. It reads more like a collection of anecdotes and opinions on how to run or manage different aspects of a company. The layout of the book is such that it is a very easy read; even pleasurable; and you can complete a few of its short yet to-the-point chapters in a single sitting such as on your bus ride to work or before you sleep.

I like that the book doesn't drag on unnecessarily. Each chapter concentrates on a different aspect of business, and each chapter is made up different sections beginning with a title and an apt hand-drawn illustration. For example, the chapter named "GO" is about the motivation needed to get started on an idea along with some practical advice.

One of the sections is called "Scratch Your Own Itch". It talks about starting a business by fixing your own problems first and starting with what you know. This may seems obvious to many of you out there but it wasn't to me at first, as the myriad possibilities out their can cause confusion and frustration when trying to answer the questions, “What should I work on? What will sell? …” However, since starting a company is hard, it's easier to push through the hard times with something you love or are passionate about than if you had worked on someone else's idea or simply copied a business model.

I found much of the advice useful; some of it counterintuitive and unexpected, running in opposition to opinion I have read in other books. For example, in the chapter on "Culture" under the section titled "They're not thirteen" they advise against micromanaging employees even to ignore the use of social networking sites during office hours in favour of trusting your employees to deliver. I found this quite a surprise really as other such books written by more bullish business people almost advocate keeping close tabs on them.

It strikes me that, how a company is built is as much about the founders and how they think as it is about the product itself. You could perhaps find a winning formulae under totally opposing management and office cultures and practices. Perhaps after reading this book you should think about how it sits with your values and the sort of company you want to work in or create. Certainly if your career doesn't work out in a hothouse environment then perhaps you would be happier in the sort of company advocated for in this book.

Personally speaking, every page in this book was worth the money I paid for it and it is a book I will re-read for the inspiration it has given me. It won’t take up too much of your time in reading and is easy to navigate. I think most to all mindsets will find something useful between its pages.

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About the Author

Imran Nazir

Imran Nazir

Imran Nazir graduated from the University of Birmingham, England, with a Bachelors degree in Computer Engineering and a Masters in Telecommunication Networks and Software from the University of Surrey, England. With over 13 years of experience, he has worked extensively on various wireless technologies including GSM, WCDMA, HSPA, and LTE. He is passionate about technology and programming in Python. In his spare time he likes cycling and manages bee hives for honey.

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