ReWork – change the way you work forever

ReWork – Change the way you work forever by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

We have something new to say about building, running and growing (or not growing) a business” – this is how the book starts.

The book is written by the founders of e.g. base camp. They share their experiences with us in this book. What follows isn´t very academic or theoretical – it´s more a sequence of advices and experiences which are definitely true and sometimes eye-opening because of their visualization/ explanation.

At first: This book is worth reading and especially because of its shorts chapters (every topic has only 1-3 pages) it´s kinda quick read. I disagree to 3 or 4 of those dozens of chapters but almost all of them are worth considering.

In the following I´ve picked a few interesting topics and cut them really short or summarize them to give you an insight of the book. Feel free to contact me for further information.


ReWork – change the way you work forever

Ignore the real world

“That would never work in the real world.” The real world isn´t a place, it´s an excuse. It´s a justification for not trying.

Learning from mistakes is overrated

There is something true in the advice to learn from failures and mistakes of the others. But we shouldn´t overrate this. If other people can´t market their product, it has nothing to do with you. So does if other people can´t price their services properly.

Planning is guessing

Plans are guesses. No one is a fortune-teller. We shouldn´t plan for the next years – we should plan for our next actions and steps. Of course we need a direction but we have to be flexible and focus on the next steps which are necessary.

Scratch your own itch

When we build a product or service, we make the call on hundreds of tiny decisions each day. If we are solving someone else´s problem, we are constantly stabbing in the dark. When we solve our own problem, the light comes on. This “solve your own problem” or fill our own needs approach lets us fall in love with what we are making!

Draw a line in the sand

We have to keep in mind why we are doing what we are doing. We have to love what we are doing and believe in it. When we don´t know what we believe, everything becomes and argument and is debatable.

Less mass

Embrace the idea of less mass. By avoiding things like longterm contracts, excess staff, permanent decisions, meetings, inventory and so on, we will be able to change direction easily. The more expensive it is to make a change, the less likely you are to make it.

Start at the epicenter

There will always be stuff we could do, stuff we want to do, and stuff we have to do. The stuff we have to do is where we should begin. Always. “If I took this away, would what I´m selling still exist?”. A hot dog stand isn´t a hot dog stand without hot dogs. We can take away the onions, the relish and so on. Some people may not like our toppings-less dogs, but we would still have a hot dog stand – but we can´t have a hot dog stand without any hot dogs.

Focus on what won´t change

A lot of companies focus on the next big thing. They latch on to what´s hot and new. The problem is that you start focusing on fashion instead of substance. The core of our business should be built around things that won´t change. Things that people are going to want today AND in ten years from now. Amazon focuses on fast or free shipping, great selection, friendly return policies and affordable prices – these things will always be in high demand.

Illusion of agreement

The business world is littered with dead documents that do nothing but waste people´s time. Reports no one reads, diagrams no one looks at and so on. These things take forever to make but only seconds to forget. The problem with abstractions like reports is that they create illusions of agreement. A hundred people can read the same words, but in their heads, they are imagining a hundred different things. Instead of describing what something looks like – draw it. Instead of explaning what something sounds like – hum it. Get real.

Meetings are toxic

When you think about it, the true cost of meetings is staggering. Let´s say we are going to schedule a meeting that lasts one hour, and we invite ten people to attend. That´s actually a ten-hour meeting, not a one-hour meeting because we are trading ten hours of productivity for one hour of meeting. And it´s probably more like fifteen hours, because there are mental switching costs and so on.

Stick to some simple rules: Set a timer – when it rings, meeting´s over. Invite as few people as possible. Always have a clear agenda. Begin with a specific problem. Meet at the site of the problem instead of a conference room. End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.

Underdo your competition

Conventional wisdom says that to beat your competition, you need to one-up them. If they have 4 features, we need 5 and so on. That´s a dead end. If you have a competitor with 4 features, do 2 but those really good. Don´t follow – lead.

Drug dealers get it right

They know their product is so good they are willing to give a little away for free upfront. They know you´ll be back for more – with money. Don´t be afraid to give a little away for free as long as you have got something else to sell.

Do it yourself first

Never hire anyone to do a job until we have tried to do it ourself first. That way, we will understand the nature of the work. We will know what a job well done looks like.

Hire when it hurts

Don´t hire for pleasure; hire to kill pain. We always need to ask ourselves: What if we don´t hire anyone? Is that extra work that is burdening us really necessary? Can we solve the problem with a slice of software or a change of practice instead? What if we just don´t do it? And most important: Test-drive employees first. We need to evaluate the work people can do. Hire them for a miniproject – we´ll see how they make decisions and so on.

Decisions are temporary

“But what if…?”, “What happens when…?” “don´t we need to plan for…?”. Don´t make up problems you don´t have yet. It´s not a problem until it´s a real problem. Decisions we make today don´t need to last forever anyway. It´s easy to shoot down good ideas by assuming that whatever we decide now needs to work for years on end. It´s just not so, especially for a small business. If circumstances change, our decisions can changes – that´s why they are temporary.

Inspiration is perishable

We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever. What doesn´t last forever is inspiration. Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk: It has an expiration date.

If you want to do something, you´ve got to do it now. You can´t put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around on it.

Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won´t wait for you.


Fantastic ending of the book ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

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