Notes on Rework

Rework has been on my “things to read” list since it was published over a year and a half ago. I was surprised when I came across a copy at my local library and couldn’t pass it up. Rework is a book that is entirely made up of material from the signal vs noise blog from the founders of 37 signals. It contains quite a bit of unconventional advice about business related topics. It was quite the fast read coming in at 288 pages with chapters only being a few pages long. They actually point out that the original draft was double the size but they chose to weed out the parts that distracted from the flow of each of the chapters. Or in their own words.. build half a product, not a half-assed product.

What follows are some of the more memorable take aways from this book..

By learning from other people’s mistakes you’ll be discouraged from trying to figure out a better, more successful solution to the problem at hand.

Draw a line in the sand. When it comes to developing software you will inevitably get requests from your audience for new features and things that you should be doing differently. Keep in mind that these are simply suggestions and even though they may be valid suggestions that sometimes its not essential to be so accommodating and determine what the primary purpose of your application is.

Just because your competition is adding feature X doesn’t mean that you should be chasing them to stay on par with their features. Your software is unique and doing something extremely well says more than doing many different things that are half-assed.

Make tiny decisions. Get into the rhythm of making decisions rather than postponing for the perfect solution. If you don’t make the smaller decisions they’ll eventually pile up and be harder to tackle until they get tossed aside and never resolved.

Don’t be afraid to launch your product sooner than when you’re comfortable with, launching in an iterative approach lets you release the essentials first instead of spending the time on extras that aren’t necessary for day one. Quick wins like these are important since momentum fuels motivation.

Teaching your customers can be just as effective if not more so than marketing to them. By doing so you help your customers improve upon their skills and is a way of gaining their loyalty. Think of how a cooking show teaches their audience to become better at preparing meals thus more inclined to buy products that they recommend. Or how your local home improvement store holds do-it-yourself clinics throughout the year.

Things like answering the phones, your software’s error messages, or the after dinner mint are all forms of marketing. Everyone should be involved.

Own your bad news by being the first to tell your customers when things go wrong. Better this than having it spread to other sources and become construed into something it isn’t.

Be close to your customers. By doing this you see first hand what others are saying about your products. Just like how the bad news can become twisted around and unreliable, feedback from your customers can become the same way.

Sound like you. Avoid things like buzzwords and corporate speak, also write to be read, don’t write just to write. Write like its just for one person so that you avoid generalities and awkwardness.

Inspiration is perishable, so don’t put it off. Set aside time in the near future and dive in and you’ll find that you can get much more done when you’re inspired then when you get around to doing it later on down the road.

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