Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rework: A Book You Shouldn't Not Read

Workaholism is a sin. Long term plans are useless. 
Meetings are poisonous. Agree?

These are just a glimpse of Rework, the business book by 37signals - the team behind Ruby on Rails, Basecamp, and other powerful web apps you may be familiar with. This book, which was exactly released last year, encompasses short essays and witty illustrations bashing (with sense) the current work culture we have today.

"Working more doesn't mean you care more or get more done."

Here, this little video would help:

First off, I give my two cents to those who also have thought of this idea (and who even include this idea in a book). I totally agree that working more (or doing OTs) doesn't make you look like you care more about your work than your co-workers. First, the regular work duration is set with a purpose. By doing overtimes, you just don't break the rules, you may even make your work less productive. The more time you spend on a task, the more time is wasted. You should find a way to finish these tasks at the time allotted. Or if the task is impossible to finish at the time given to you, you should just continue it the other day. As the book suggests, you wouldn't get to accomplish something when you're tired, which is true. It's just that simple.

"Meetings are toxic."

We all have been born to the tradition that things will get done the better way when there is participation and throwing of ideas. But sometimes, doing things in a traditional way just for the sake of tradition is not healthy for you and all the parties involved. This is somewhat relative to the traditional classroom setting which I've been ranting for a long time. If you've read some of my articles, you might have noticed and I'm going to repeat this example again. 

In a three hour lecture set by those who do the scheduling of classes, the first 10-30 minutes will be alloted for adjustments, like setting up the presentation, or waiting for the professor. Then, there goes the traditional attendance check which will eventually be up to 10 minutes (or even more). Then, the usual discussion and the seatwork or quiz. Not to mention some distractions like your classmates talking about someone who you do not care about, your professor talking about himself and his accomplishments, and other noisy individuals who think they're the only person around. We are prisoned on this four-walled classroom. It would be better if we would be introduced to a real setting where we can apply what we're talking about. Yeah, there's the laboratory but I'm talking about 3 hour lectures here which should just fully die on the educational curriculum. 

In terms of a workplace setting, you wouldn't get things done if you are always babbling about things. There are more productive ways to distribute ideas. Like in a classroom setting, you wouldn't escape the fact that there are someone who distracts or misguides the direction of the goals and those who waste time by suggesting stupid ideas. As the book suggests, meetings should be limited to a number of people, in a limited time. They should be more focused on the application process and real life setting. Lastly, only talk about the topics suggested on the objective, no more, no less.

"Planning is guessing."

Nothing is stable. You may never know what may happen in the next 5 years. How much more if you do expect something to be something after years. When you plan, you are limited to a vision, a vision you'll be using as a guide to accomplishing your goals. Plans should not be finalized. They should grow and be open to replanning on the process. Having long-term plans and sticking to it as it is is not just a waste of time, but will also cause you to stress about something you shouldn't be stressed about. 

"Underdo your competition."

We always come up to the ideology that when we compete, we should be greater and better than our competitors. When they go up, we should, too; because it is competition. Now what is wrong with this? If you mean by growing just to outgrow your competitor every time they grow, you are not who is in control. You are a follower. You follow their path. That leads to lack of innovation and genuine improvement to your side. Yes, competition is a battle but that tactic won't work. A react-because-you-were-hit move won't make you a winner. Instead, relax and keep your side steady. Use your intellectual talents in a normal and simple way. That makes smooth outcomes.

As they say, simplicity is beauty. The NoteSlate has foresaw this and is now winning fans. Yes it is a lower technology compared to other tablets like the iPad. But, it's simplicity will make it to the top. I can tell that once the product starts to ship, many people will get into it. It's simple and it's for simple tasks. And most of us do simple tasks, that opens to a much wider groups of customers.

So what now?

I recommend you to read it. Today marks exactly one year of its release and if you haven't bought a copy yet, you can buy it on Amazon - Rework [Harbound] | Rework [Paperback].

Or if you prefer to check it first, you could download an excerpt from their website:

Rework and 37signals are registered trademark of 37signals, LLC.
Videos and the photo used in this post are properties of their respective owners.

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