Rework

Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

If you are a techie, you most certainly know who Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are - the founders of 37 Signals (now Basecamp) and contributors to Signal vs. Noise, one of the Web's most popular blogs. Their extremely unique and innovative approach to business is something I deeply admire for a long time now.

Rework is a book about building, running and growing a business. Oh, but trust me, this is not one of those long, boring, self-repeating business books that make you feel like you are sitting in a University class. This is a book based on experience, that throws out the traditional notions of what it takes to run a business. If I need to describe it with one sentence I would probably say it is the best thought-provoking book I have ever read on business.

Here is an excerpt displaying that:

Our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic. We hear about people burning the midnight oil. They pull all-nighters and sleep at the office. It's considered a badge of honor to kill yourself over a project. No amount of work is too much work.

Not only is this workaholism unnecessary, it's stupid. Working more doesn't mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.

Workaholics wind up creating more problems than they solve. First off, working like that just isn't sustainable over time. When the burnout crash comes — and it will — it'll hit that much harder.

Workaholics miss the point, too. They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them. They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force. This results in inelegant solutions.

They even create crises. They don't look for ways to be more efficient because they actually like working overtime. They enjoy feeling like heroes. They create problems (often unwittingly) just so they can get off on working more.

Workaholics make the people who don't stay late feel inadequate for "merely" working reasonable hours. That leads to guilt and poor morale all around. Plus, it leads to an ass-in-seat mentality—people stay late out of obligation, even if they aren't really being productive.

If all you do is work, you're unlikely to have sound judgments. Your values and decision making wind up skewed. You stop being able to decide what's worth extra effort and what's not. And you wind up just plain tired. No one makes sharp decisions when tired.

In the end, workaholics don't actually accomplish more than nonworkaholics. They may claim to be perfectionists, but that just means they're wasting time fixating on inconsequential details instead of moving on to the next task.

Workaholics aren't heroes. They don't save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.

This is an extraordinary book that I would recommend to anyone, even if you are not starting a business. It will definitely make you think, it will make you change the way you are doing things in your life and in your career and it might eventually help you achieve your goals.