We’ve been using 37signals products at the office for years now. I’m a big fan of their products and their philosophy. For some reason though I remained dismissive regarding the business self-help book Rework they published last year. Probably the fault of that usual suspect: ego.
A reminder on twitter from Nick Grant encouraged me to be a little more humble and give it a try. I’m glad I did; it’s cheap, easy to digest in one or two sittings and contains a good mix of reminders about well understood truisms as well as a plenty of new ideas. Given that we’re entering an era when so much of the standard architectural service needs to be rethought, now is as good a time as any to consider how to rework work.
Some notes provided in the spirit of the ‘blog all dog-eared pages’ movement:
Draw a line in the sand: As you get going, keep in mind what you’re doing. Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or a service. You have to believe in something. You need to have a backbone.
Less mass: Embrace the idea of having less mass… Mass is increased by:
- Long term contracts
- Excess staff
- Permanent decisions
- Thick process
- Inventory (physical or mental)
- Hardware, software and technology lock-ins
- Long-term road maps
- Office politics
Tone is in your fingers: In business, too many people obsess over tools, software tricks, scaling issues, fancy office space, lavish furniture, and other frivolities instead of what really matters. And what really matters is how to actually get customers and make money… Use whatever you’ve got already or can afford cheaply. Then go. It’s not the gear that matters. It’s playing what you’ve got as well as you can. Your tone is in your fingers.
Interruption is the enemy of productivity: If you’re constantly staying late and working weekends it’s not because there’s too much work to be done. It’s because you’re not getting enough done at work. And the reason is interruptions.
Build an audience: All companies have customers. Lucky companies have fans. But the most fortunate companies have audiences… So build an audience. Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos – whatever. Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience.
Out-teach your competition: Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or outsponsor competitors, try to out-teach them. Teaching probably isn’t something your competitors are even thinking about. Most businesses focus on selling or servicing, but teaching never occurs to them.
Hire great writers: If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. It doesn’t matter if that person is a marketer, salesperson, designer, programmer or whatever; their writing skills will pay off… Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.