I recently read Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson from 37 Signals. Rework covers topics on planning, marketing, design, technology, collaboration and more.

Every section in the book is a short, focused essay. I found myself nodding and smiling while reading several of the essays because they relate to situations I've seen or gone through during various projects. Other essays I skipped because they seemed common sense, or are not really applicable to me right now. However, that's the beauty of the book — you can pick it up at any spot, read a few short essays, and then put it down. The stories and examples are short and sweet. The writing is simple, yet entertaining.

My favourite chapters and quotes

The beginning of the book had me hooked by addressing easily taken for granted business practices. "Planning is guessing", "Why grow?", and "Ignore the real world at your peril" are some of my favourites. I'm also an engineer at heart, and an essay that resonated with me was "Start Making Something." It's an approach we try to take at Habanero with our agile / iterative methodology, the goal of which is to get working software in end-users' hands as soon as possible. The quote that I just love from this chapter is "What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan."

There are some good chapters on planning, since it's central to almost every project. "Making the call is progress" reminded me that decisions are the key element to move projects along, and we need to constantly stay focused on making decisions. Sounds like common sense, but it's easy to get trapped looking at a situation thoroughly from all angles, while delaying making the final call. Sometimes a delay may be justified, but I tend to generally agree with the quote "It doesn't matter how much you plan, you'll still get some stuff wrong anyway. Don't make things worse by over-analyzing and delaying before you even get going."

Additional bonus: Every section has a sketch! Fun to glance at before diving into the essay.

In summary...

I widely recommend this book. The majority of examples are technology project-focused, but there are also marketing, hiring, and other good business insights. Read it during your lunch hour, a Sunday afternoon, whenever. Then, keep it somewhere handy so you can refer to it when you need a bit of inspiration.