What I Learned From ‘Rework’

“There is no generalized plan you can follow to run a successful operation!”

By Ryan McLaughlin, Staff Writer

Jason Fried and David Hansson, from the company 37signals, have written a truly innovative book called Rework, which describes simpler and better ways of operating a company. A couple of months ago, I picked it up at the local B&N, and read this on the jacket cover:

“If given a choice between investing in someone who has read REWORK or has an MBA, I’m investing in REWORK every time. A must read for every entrepreneur.” – Mark Cuban

This was intriguing to me in a couple of ways.

  1. I grew up in Dallas while Mark was rejuvenating the Mavericks franchise. Thus, I’ve read a lot about his entrepreneurial career, and he is one of my heroes in the business world.
  2. I am an undergrad business student and an entrepreneur, and I’m looking to finish up the former so I can fully pursue the latter.

So I read the book and the following is the most important lesson I learned from Rework: There is no generalized plan you can follow to run a successful operation!

There are a couple of things one needs to think about when they set out to implement their business plan; the two most important being policies and procedures. Most people that have been employees have been exposed to the “right way” of conducting meetings, delegating tasks, managing employees, etc. This “right way,” which will henceforth be known as “the inefficient way,” seems like a good blueprint to follow when you start up your own business.

But it’s not. The only way to run your business is the way in which you and your employees are most efficient and productive, even if this strays from how most businesses do things nowadays.

To Fried and Hansson, “meetings are toxic” and “planning is guessing.” Since I read the book, I’ve put these philosophies to work in my life with fantastic results. “The inefficient way” leads people to schedule meetings for a half hour, just because that’s how their calendar app operates. If the meeting can get done in 18 minutes, it should be scheduled as such. Push yourself to be as efficient as you can be

However, this doesn’t mean that you overwork yourself and in fact, most of the time it means the opposite. Say goodbye to that 9-5 schedule. Get your work done when you’re most productive and in the amount of time it actually takes you. We’ve all sat at that desk from 4-5pm without much real work to do just because the boss would frown upon an early exit.

According to the book, meetings are flawed because they usually discuss abstract concepts instead of real things; they have vague agendas; and worst of all, they include forecasts or quotas. Forecasts are just forecasts, and modern business is usually less predictable than a March Madness bracket. They’re usually a waste of time. Businessmen should be focused on bettering themselves and their company in the moment at all times. If you are always getting better in the present, your future will be much brighter than if you had stopped to plan it out.

The book offers up many more invaluable philosophies that you can apply to your business and your personal life too. Rework is available on Amazon, B&N or anywhere else that sells books and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in ever starting their own business.

Ryan McLaughlin blogs at www.ryan25m.tumblr.com and you can find him at www.ryanmclaughlin.me

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