Book Review: Rework

By Jonathan Timar
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I have just finished reading the most refreshing business book I have ever come across. It’s called Rework, and it is truly unique.

It the rebellious step child of business books. It breaks all the rules and it encourages you to break them too. It makes radical recommendations, like telling you to forget about a business plan, or silly things like mission statements. The chapters are short and to the point, often only one or two pages. The book doesn’t feature a single graph or chart, and it tells you not to bother making them either. There’s even a couple if instances of profanity.

This book is the business book for anyone who ever watched a related to the movie “Office Space”. It dispenses with the flare, the bullshit, and the misery of trying to do it the “right” way.

It caught my attention

I kept seeing this book. The cover kept calling to me, and yet for a long time I never picked it up. I had other things to do, this book could wait.

I regret waiting.

This is the business book for everyone who has ever struggled to fit in. It the business book for the people who are always in trouble with the boss. It’s the business book for anyone who has ever been “written up” by a boss and wanted desperately to punch to stupid bastard in the face. It’s the business book for anyone who has ever head the words, “that’s just how we have to do it”, or “that’s the company policy” and found the voice in your head screaming, “WHY?!”

This book will vindicate you. You’ll find out you’ve been right all along.

It’s hard it describe it

The formula for a book review is usually pretty simple; you write a brief synopsis, you sum up the parts, you emphasize the key points, and then you wrap it all up by offering your opinion.

That’s hard to do with this book.

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    It follows a non standard format, it’s already very concise (the authors mention that the final draft was half as long as the draft preceding it), and there really is only one key point:

    You know all that other shit companies waste time and resources on that doesn’t even matter? Don’t do it!

    And yes, that really does sum it up.

    That being said, there were a couple of sections that really stuck out in my mind. One was about making money from your by-products, the stuff you would normally throw away. The first example was lumber companies making millions by selling sawdust that gets made into artificial fireplace logs, or bedding for farm animals. Interesting, but not exactly relevant to most of us. But then they went on to point out that the book, Rework, itself was a by-product of their accumulated experience and blog posts since starting their business. Brilliant! That certainly got my gears turning. Another example was of a band filming their daily routines as they recorded their album, and turning that footage into a successful documentary.

    The other topic that really stood out for me was a section on the inanity of having a so-called “mission statement”. As someone who has worked his fair share of jobs for large corporations I have long been disgusted by the arrogant bullshit companies waste time and money thinking up, that NEVER EVER has any impact on the business, except perhaps to piss off the more astute staff and customers who resent being patronized. The example given in the book is the actual mission statement of Enterprise Rental Cars, which I won’t repeat here. But take the Starbucks mission statement (since I happen to be sitting in a Starbucks right now):

    “To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time.”

    Oh please! You don’t give a shit about my spirit, and the underpaid, under-respected baristas behind the counter sure as heck don’t either. Nor does Starbucks care about the spirits of those baristas or it might actually treat them like human beings and not replaceable, expendable machines.

    If you must have a mission statement, be honest about it, seems to be the message in the book, and it’s one I can agree with.

    The beauty of brevity

    This book is brief. You can read it in an hour or two. It says only what it needs to say and doesn’t waste any extra words saying stuff it doesn’t. It resists all temptation to make itself seem more important through filler.