37signals are the creators of the popular Ruby on Rails web framework and the people behind successful web applications such as basecamp and campfire. Their previous book Getting Real, about effecitive web application development, really resonated with me.
When I heard that they were writing a new book, ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever, about "building, running and growing (or not growing) a business" the 37 signals way, I was excited. Especially as it arrived at a time when I'm working on my own startup.
A week has passed since my copy arrived from Amazon, so I've had a change to read the book and write up some of my favourite points below.
Planning is guessing
"Working without a plan may seem scary. But blindly following a plan that has no relationship to reality is even scarier"
Don't make long term plans, or at least don't obsess over them if you do. I think the key point here is be flexible.
Start making something
"Ideas are cheap and plentiful...the real question is how well you execute."
Coming up with cool ideas all day won't get you anywhere. Starting something will. Even if it's lame, you'll learn something that'll make the next attempt better.
Build half a product, not a half-assed product.
"Getting to great starts by chopping out what's merely good."
The classic 37 signals do less argument, about less being better, and bloat being bad.
"Stop imagining what's going to work. Find out for real."
I'm also reminded of the Reid Hoffman principle here:
"If you aren't embarrassed by what you launch with, you waited too long to launch."
Good enough is fine
"When good enough get the job done, go for it. It's way better than wasting resources or, even worse, doing nothing because you can't afford the complex solution."
I think the above rule is really a specific version of this one. Get something basic done first - worry about making it great later!
Pick a fight
"Having an enemy gives you a great story to tell customers...They take sides. Passions are ignited."
This is certainly an approach that 37 Signals employ, and it seems to have worked well for them. OnStartups have a good article on the power of polarization which goes into more detail about this idea.
Don't confuse enthusiam with priority
"The enthusiasm you have for a new idea is not an accurate indicator of its true worth. What seems like a sure-fire hit right now often gets downgraded to "nice to have" by morning."
Don't drop everything to start on your latest idea. You'll constantly be chasing new ideas, and never finish any of your old ones which might be just as good, if not better.
Take a deep breath
"When people complain, let things simmer for a while. Let them know you're listening...but explain that you're going to let it go for a while and see what happens. You'll probbaly find that people will adjust eventually."
Every time Facebook change their privacy settings there is a huge uproar. When websites change their design you hear complaints. Changes aren't always for the best, but there are some people complain no matter what. The advice given here is to wait a while for things to settle down before making any decisions based on the feedback.
"Need, must, can't, easy, just, only and fast. There words get in the way of healthy communication. They are red flags that introduce animosity, torpedo good discussions, and cause projects to be late."
This is one of my favourite points in the book. I'll certainly be making an effort to avoid these assumption-ridden words in the future!
Inspiration is perishable
"Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won't wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work."
So true. A great reason why you should start making something the second you feel inspired to do so.
They were my favourite points, but the book is filled with many more. If you've also read the book I'd love to know what you though and what your favourite parts were, either in the comments section or on twitter.