I’ve always considered 37signals as a reference company as their philosophy very much aligns with my own: a small company that builds a small and opinionated but extremely useful software product while, at the same time, produces high-quality open source contributions.

I’ve just finished reading Rework, the first book wrote by 37signals’s Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

Given my interest in the company, their products and philosophy I wanted to write a short review of the book that, hopefully, will be useful for my future self and for others.

The books is easy and quick to read. It is divided in a series of very short sections each one of them centered in a particular thought or advice.

Sections are grouped by topic resulting in twelve chapters that go from hiring, to damage control, stepping through productivity, competition, evolution, and so on.

The book takes a contrarian stance and oposes many of the standard “corporate” advice. Although not everyone should apply everything said in the book, I think that the many of the advice is very useful and can shift your focus, specially when working with small teams and businesses.

There is a lot of pressure and misunderstanding that believes that the only way for something be healthy is to grow: grow your number of clients, grow your number of features, grow your headcount…
This inevitably results in big and beaurocratic organizations that are stuck in the status-quo. Instead of providing more value to their customers, they usually end up extracting more value from them. But clients get tired too and may leave.

My main takeaway from the book is to embrace being small. Small is fast, small is agile, small can learn and small can pivot. Small can focus on solving actual problems as it is not concerned with deep layers of beaurocrats within the organization. Small can speak directly with the customer using their own language.

Small is not worse than, it is better than.