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on 16 March 2010
If you've used any of the 37signals software products, you'll understand why the authors have an awful lot of credibility to write a book about running a small company.

ReWork sets out their vision of what has worked for them, getting from day one, to turning over millions of dollars, and having hundreds of thousands of customers.

The book is short, simple, and concentrates on the basics, rather than going into hundreds of pages of detail and case studies. This isn't, after all, an academic treatise needing lots of evidence... nor, however, is it an autobiography. Instead, it's a straightforward set of views about what they found works for them.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone thinking of setting up their own business.

My only criticism of the book is that, while it has a wider scope than their first book - "Getting Real" - much of the material appears to be lifted directly. Getting Real was about running coding teams, this is about running the wider businesses. I'd NOT read Getting Real before - I ordered the two together, and read them back to back - this wasn't particularly worth doing. Read this one, and skip the older tome.
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on 4 October 2010
This book is generally viewed as "brilliant", "awesome" etc.

It's OK. It's very short, more of a collection of tidbits than an actual structured argument .. and while there are some useful things in there it's not as revolutionary as some people seem to think.

It's an OK book .. probably better than OK .. but I think most of the praise comes because it's from the guys behind Ruby on Rails / Basecamp .. rather than because the book itself. Also, I can't help noticing that a lot of the people who say it's amazing don't actually seem to have run businesses .. so what might seem an amazing insight to them might just be "quite interesting" to a more experienced hand.
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on 4 June 2010
I want to like this book more than I actually do.

I want to like it because I agree with much of what the authors are trying to achieve. Or, at least, what I think they're trying to achieve.

The book sets out to challenge many of the assumptions we make about the world of work and commerce. And how we spend our time and structure our activities.

The authors make lots of good points about how inefficient and bureaucratic work often is. They draw your attention to the often bizarre characteristics of workplaces and offer ways in which it could all be different.

This is the sort of 'stuff' that I like.

Like most people, I've worked in several dysfunctional organisations. Like families, organisations (in either the public or private sector) do things that don't make much sense. But they do them because, 'we've always done it this way' e.g. 3 hour meetings where many attend just because they've got to be seen to be attending!

Rework then, sets out to offer us all an alternative.

Fine.

But as a book, Rework failed for me.

I found the short (often very short) chapters, well, just too short. Arguments that needed further development were - I felt - left in mid-air, underdeveloped and under explored.

At times, the book felt like a loose collection of odd ramblings with no concrete structure upon which to pull concepts together.

Many of the suggestions would possibly work in smaller organisations but would cause real problems if you tried to apply them in bigger, more bureaucratic settings.

In conclusion, I highly commend the authors for trying to challenge how the world works. Things do really need to be re-worked. But so does, unfortunately, this book!
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If Joseph Schumpeter were to design a "creative destroyer," he would probably come up with a business thinker who bears a striking resemblance to Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. To me, they seem to be iconoclasts who are impatient to build rather than anarchists whose objective is chaos. They quickly indicate a healthy respect for the nature and extent of difficulty when challenging the status quo. But they are not deterred by that difficult, as their success with 37signals clearly indicates, and they probably have more confidence in their readers' (as yet) unfulfilled potentialities than most of those readers do.

Consider this passage in Chapter FIRST: "There's a new reality. Today anyone can be in business. Tools that used to be out of reach are now easily accessible. Technology that cost thousands is now just a few bucks or free. One person can do the job of two or three or, in some cases, an entire department. Stuff that was impossible just a few years ago is simple today." That said, Fried and Hansson realize that many people who read that passage will heartily endorse its spirit but decline to embrace and leverage the opportunities that the new reality offers. For them, the "real world" is defined by what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes in his book, Leading Change, as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom."

This so-called "real world" has advocates who, Fried and Hansson observe, "are filled with pessimism and despair. They expect fresh concepts to fail. They assume society isn't ready for or capable of change. Even worse, they want to drag others down into their tomb. If you're hopeful and ambitious, they'll try to convince you your ideas are impossible. They'll say you're wasting your time. Don't believe them. That world may be real for them, but it doesn't mean you have to live in it." By now you have at least a sense of the thrust and flavor of Fried and Hansson's perspectives on how (literally) anyone can rework what she or he does...and rework how she or he does it...to achieve and then sustain success in all dimensions and domains of one's life. Indeed, one of the most important insights shared in the book is that the most valuable business lessons are also the most valuable life lessons. For example, here are ten of several dozen that Fried and Hansson discuss:

Learning from mistakes is overrated.
Planning is guessing.
Scratch your own itch.
Not enough of [fill in the blank] is a cop-out.
Embrace constraints.
Be a curator, not a custodian.
Reasons to quit.

Note: The material in this chapter is wholly consistent with the gambler's adage, "Know when to hold `em, know when to fold `em" as well as with Seth Godin's observations in The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick).

Long lists don't get done.
Emulate great chefs.
ASAP is poison.

Granted, the tone of Fried and Hansson's narrative is sometimes confrontation, in-your-face, but I think that is necessary because their separate but related purposes are to challenge their reader to "rework" or, in some instances, "blow up" assumptions and premises about business success that are no longer true (or never were), and, to encourage their reader adopt a new mindset, then formulate and execute new strategies and tactics that will achieve sustainable business success.

If you need some fresh perspectives on how to get more done with less, including less stress, and with more joy, look no further. And if you share my high regard for this book, I highly recommend Godin's Linchpin, Guy Kawasaki's Reality Check, Scott McLeod's Ignore Everybody, and Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense co-authored by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton.
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on 10 April 2010
I was very disappointed with this book, particularly in light of all the positive reviews. It reads like a series of pretty random blogs and while some good points are made, there's certainly nothing earth-shattering here. Apart from that I particularly disliked the large number of pages in the book which contained pictures or were title pages for chapters. (A "chapter" which is not even one and a half pages long does not merit a full page for it's title.)
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on 22 April 2010
The book sounded a great idea, but turned out to be just a string of Marketing-Speak taglines. Sorry guys, but it's shallow stuff. No real brass-tacks advice for the budding entrepreneur, just American-style motivational jingoisms.
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on 1 April 2010
I'm not sure where the other five star reviews are coming from, unless the other readers have just come out of preschool and only respond to full page pictures and academically poor, cherry picked examples.

First, the good bits. If you enjoy being treated like a child, go for it. It's in special big letters for you to read across the table while you squish your playdoh. There's even a full page picture literally every 3rd page - I'm not exaggerating - which can summarise it for your undeveloped mind. You don't even need to read the following 1-2 pages, because they often give irrelevant examples which, to any partially scientific mind, do not back their point in any respectful way. So just flick through the pictures.

Now to the point - this book is honestly a waste of time, but thankfully not too much time because it takes very little time to read. Every chapter could have been a breif, concise blog post, and probably had purely good content rather than that patronising 'clever internet type' talk about it. With lots of full stops. Like this. You know what I mean. It's factual. Innit.

I'll give it credit for the fact that it summarises common sense, and maybe a lot of people don't have it, but really, I'd instead recommend their other book 'Getting Real' which, despite being aimed at developers, has some really sensible advice for any business or individual.

I'm sorry to say I've lost my (previously notable) respect for 37signals, and recommend you spend two hours and money doing something productive. Oh, and the tagline by Godin on the covers is just further evidence that his opinion on book covers is worthless, and likely his income.
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on 11 December 2010
I bought this book after reading so many good reviews on amazon and am puzzled as to why. Rework is a very basic book that you can read very quickly as theres not a lot of information and all the content is all common sense and obvious, ' press releases are spam', 'go to sleep' (about why sleeping is good for you). To me the books all about how to make short-cuts in business and summed up by the chapter 'good enough is fine' - which is essentially about why bother doing something well when you can do it ok? on the cover is a quote 'Ignore this book at your peril' but to me its a bit of a waste of time.
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on 18 March 2010
I had this book on back order for over 4 months, and I have to admit it did not disappoint. 37signals have a business model that all "starters" should want to emulate and REWORK has more than its fair share of short concise tips and tales to implement. For me it highlighted a real no nonsense approach to how we work and what a business should be achieving/focusing on. This no bull shiitake approach is quite refreshing and interesting, so much so that I finished the book the day I received it (And still went to work).

If anything that is where my only issue lies, the book was concise, informative, and entertaining! Allowing me way more time to take action on its content! What a dilemma, what to do next! START I guess.
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on 27 October 2015
Having spent 8 years working for myself I've built 2 businesses employing now over 20 people so have a reasonable grasp of business. This book feels like it has been written by a real maverick who has been he'll bent on trying to find unconventional ways of doing things and the book preaches these as gospel. I suspect their business has been successful in spite of their radical ideas rather than because of them
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