I just finished reading ReWork. Written by the guys at 37Signals (they’re the company behind stuff like Basecamp and Ruby on Rails), they talk about their business philosophy and product design process. Part comic book, part business book, this is a fun, quick and personal read that gives some different angles to consider if you ever want to launch a product or start a business, or if you happen to work with other people at all.
Here are a couple things that got me thinking:
Why is it that every great artist is convinced that great photographs, comics, books, whatever are the product of years of practice, developed skill and inspiration? And yet we keep thinking that a bigger camera or the newest computer or software will give us the results of the pros? In Rework, the authors again state that gear doesn’t matter. They encourage businesses to use whatever tools they can afford because success doesn’t come from tools, but the people that put them to work.
This summer brother-in-law met the golfer who had won the “longest drive” award for the past several years, and witnessed him launch golf balls just as far with a putter as with a driver. It wasn’t the club, but the swing that mattered.
Practice your craft, but don’t get hung up by the gear you are or aren’t using.
In their book, the authors of ReWork recommend that investing in teaching is worth a lot more than a bunch of advertising. Teaching is a great way to build trust and loyalty from your customers and potential customers.
I know that I’ve gained a ton from the many people on the web, from photographers, marketing gurus, authors and designers, who teach on the web. (And I’ve often bought their stuff). The beauty of of the web, as pointed out by Clay Shirky, is that it’s easy to give your insights away (like in a blog ;)). 37Signals themselves are a great example of teaching and investing investing in the developer community, both through their blog and their open-source contributions.
These guys have some great insights into the culture of a business, including how to say sorry, the importance of owning your bad news (not just the good news), how to have productive discussions (hint: words like “can’t”, “need”, must”, “easy” and “fast” are four-letter words that should be avoided). They also point out that culture can’t be created by slogans or mission statements, but are a product of consistent behaviour.