I’m not sure this is the forum to admit to this, but I’m not big on reading business books. I routinely find them dry, boring and unnecessarily verbose. So when a dear friend and fellow communicator handed over Rework I didn’t exactly rush to read it. I should have. And so should you. It’s several years old now, but the commentary will make you rethink how you work. You can see how they came up with that snappy title, yes?
What I loved about this book was how to the point it is, how it challenges all sorts of business conventions that we simply accept at face value, and how it suggests that the way we’ve become accustomed to working is poisonous and detrimental to our personal and business health. Oh, yes, and it has pictures.
In no more than 36 hours, I had read it cover-to-cover and felt completely inspired and renewed. The thinking supported my philosophies around business, but it summarized them so precisely that I became almost desperate to completely change the way I work. So, you know, I joined Laura and Ben in Red Balloon and started a business.
Perhaps the most compelling statement in the book is around long-term business planning. The authors, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (37 signals) argue that long-term planning is nothing more than long-term guesswork.
Unless you’re a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy. There are just too many factors that are out of your hands: market conditions, competitors, customers, the economy, etc. Writing a plan makes you feel in control of things you can’t actually control.
Gasp! Isn’t that how so many of us communicators make money? By selling long-term plans, strategies, 30 pound documents? For heavens sake, someone hide this book from the clients.
But they’re right. Consultants routinely craft hefty strategies filled with all kinds of useless content. And you know what happens to plans that look like that? They get reviewed, discussed, edited five times and then promptly stored on the shelf until the next quarterly meeting when everyone scrambles to find their copy.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a strategist at heart. In fact, all three of us here at Red Balloon are. But we’re smart strategists. We won’t give you big, fat documents just to make ourselves feel smart. And, while we’ve done it in previous work places, we won’t write you a three-year plan filled with tactics and to-dos for the next 1,095 days. The goal is to do what great coaches do — give you what you need to win the game and, hopefully, the championship. And if that means we write you a three-page document, well then so be it. We’re not afraid of that.
- Wee C