The IT team recently created a book club with the goal of fostering new ideas, promoting professional growth, and team-building. Our first selection for the club, Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of 37signals, had the IT team actively engaged in the ideas presented. Twelve team members met over the course of three months to actively discuss the concepts deftly covered in Rework. The authors debunk many of the theories and practices we are taught throughout school and our careers. Rework packs in over 80 concepts in brief 1-2 page summaries that are designed to make you think. Specifically, they are deigned to make you think differently about topics such as Embracing Constraints and Picking Fights. At each club meeting, we found ourselves devising ways to improve processes, remove barriers, and what we would do if we weren’t in our current roles today.
While some may balk at spending company time to discuss what you would serve in your food truck if you took the entrepreneurial spirit to open one, it connected the team on levels we don’t usually make time to explore. One insight we learned is many of us are excellent cooks and it gave us a greater appreciation for the creativity of our colleagues. With each section we covered, we asked ourselves if we could be doing a better job in our own environment. In many cases the resounding answer was yes. Narrowing down the ideas to pursue without bogging them in bureaucracy was the challenge.
Here were our key takeaways:
We Can do a Better Job by Being More Flexible – Make a decision and if there is a better one, we will change it. Be careful in the planning, yet allow yourself to be adaptive.
Maintaining a High-Performing Environment – To stave off burnout, people need to be doing what they love. Think about how we assign projects and seek volunteers before we blindly assign resources. Buy-in is stronger when it is the result of a choice rather than an edict.
Saying Yes to Everything is Not Making us Better – If you say yes to everything, you dilute your ability to focus on the most important items. Each of us can’t be good at everything and success is realized in knowing this and sharing the load.
There were other key concepts we agreed to visit in the future:
- How to Say You’re Sorry
- You Don’t Create Culture
- You Need Less Than you Think
- Draw a Line in the Sand
As the authors point out in their introduction, “This book isn’t based on academic theories. It’s based on our experience.” The straight forward and in-your-face vignettes resonated with our team across multiple generations and experience levels. In discussing the concepts, it removed barriers and judgments which may have otherwise been present in a “toxic” meeting. For a team that operates in a fast-paced environment with several talented and successful peers, it gave them permission to unplug from the routine and take a step back to evaluate our environment. We have taken inspirational ideas and concepts from Fried and Hansson to ‘Rework’ key areas we would not have otherwise done with exploring this book.
While reading the book was an enjoyable endeavor, the discussion and healthy debate it sparked was the highlight for everyone involved. We collectively gave the book four stars and the experience five.