Though this book is nearly two years old, it’s as relevant as it was when it was first published. For businesses and entrepreneurs, it’s worth reading twice. Three times if necessary. 37signals is a business of the future. Some of their business practical might seem a bit radical, but they’re obviously paying off for the company.
Ditch that useless paperwork. Companies invest hundreds of thousands – nay, millions – drafting and redacting worthless publications no one will ever read. Do you know anyone who’s read your company’s five-year plan? Do employee care about specs and diagrams? No, they don’t. The reading and the writing of such documents is a waste of your employee’s time. Just don’t do it.
It’s okay to quit things. Rather than wasting employee’s time on fixing a project that clearly isn’t working, sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and move on. Some work just plain doesn’t need to be done. Fried and Heinemeier Hansson pose some good questions about the value of work. For example, does it add value to your product? Does it solve a problem? Is there a better way to do it? You decide. If the answer is no, maybe try a different angle. Or better yet, drop it all together.
Beware of interruptions. How many times a week do you attend meetings? Does anything get accomplished at these events? Before you call a meeting with half of your staff, take a moment to ask: is this meeting absolutely necessary? Is there some other way to accomplish what I am trying to do here? Similarly, rather than firing off emails every five minutes, keep a string of questions and concerns in your inbox and fire them off once per day. This way, employees aren’t interrupting their workday to answer emails all day long.
Nine-to-Five is good enough. Lots of companies dream about getting a fresh graduate who’s willing to work a hundred hours a week, keep a sleeping bag under the desk, eat lunch in front of his desk. Mmm…how much value do you think a sleep-deprived and socially-starved employee is really adding to your business? Rather than looking for employees who work hundreds of hours, how about hiring people who make the most of the time they’re given. It’s about working smarter, not working harder.
“Find a judo solution.” Perfection can be a big time waster. Good enough will do. There are always complex or convoluted ways to go about solving a problem. Look for a simple solution. If there’s a shortcut that can save time and money, take it. The authors cite political campaigns to drive the point home. When big issues arise, ads are on television the following day. They’re succinct and cheaply done. How effective would it be to spend millions more making a glamorous Ford-style ad that only appears ten days after the fact? Irrelevant. Simple is almost always the most effective.
If any of this rings true for your business, read the book . Any business can learn from it. It’s a book for modern businesses. Jobseekers could stand to give it a read as well; get some ideas about how to be a cutting edge employee of the future. Stay current. Stay relevant.