Monday, January 24, 2011


I first started seeing the Rework book by 37Signals popping up in my Gowalla items collection earlier last year. It had a neat cover, but nothing urged me to seek out more information. Fast forward to now: my group uses Basecamp as a collaboration tool, and B has been developing his own strong ideas about how profitable businesses should operate. I breezed through the book tonight, and found it to be a very readable primer devoid of business jargon on how to build a business on your passion, shed fears and perfectionist tendencies, and treat your employees and customers like humans.
As part joke part hidden criticism, I sent my boss and his boss the link, as they seem to be constantly in and out of meetings. Our last team meeting lasted the entire wedge of time between breakfast and lunch.
Rework: Ditch meetings. They tie up resources- a 1 hour meeting with 10 people is actually worth 10 hours, and a very small amount of information is actually shared, especially if no clear agenda is set beforehand.
I furtively conduct my daily blog rounds, not sure as to what the official policy is on distraction, but knowing full well that a person cannot work 8 hours straight without taking breaks. And I always get my work done.
Rework: What good is it to the company to ban Facebook/Youtube? Employees will find another way to waste time. Realize that people needs breaks to stay productive.
I yearn to be in an environment where I can get to know my coworkers, create an understanding between us on how each of our roles fit into the process, and feel free to disagree and offer constructive criticism. Right now we mind our businesses and act busy most of the time.
Rework: Keep the company small, so that employees will get to know one another more intimately and not be afraid to share ideas. Large companies have employees that treat everyone politely, because they are all strangers.
And many other takeways, including personal ones. Like, act now on inspiration. Otherwise, it will evaporate a few days or a week later. Don't imitate others. By taking this shortcut, you forgo the part where you develop hard-earned understanding, which is priceless.
Besides 37Signals, Twitter, Google, and some local startups, I wonder if there are any other thriving companies following this stripped-down philosophy. I would love to know : )

What else have I been up to? Preparing for my first photography show, that's what. Roshan 35, all 35mm photography show with 3 other photographers at Space12, rad poster designed by the brilliant BW/GF. I was pleased as punch to be invited to be a part of this, and after some initial anxiety over which photos I was to choose (they all started to look crappy), I got into gear and drove my negatives over to the esteemed Precision Camera for prints. And they came back looking absolutely drab! After doing some comparisons on Flickr and some old prints, I realized that Walgreens automatically applied a sort of 'S-curve' to all my photos, enhancing them with more contrast and a red hue. This made me question the validity of my film photography history. If they only looked so stunning because of a template edit, then I had nothing to hold onto. But after some external affirmation, I think I am starting to accept the natural, more moody look of my dusky shots. You'll see what I mean if you come. : ) Come! 7-11 PM @ Space 12. Other photographers featured: Evan Wilson, Andrew Stevens, Gideon Tsang (pastor of Vox Venaie).


Rachel B said...

Interesting ideas about business. I still contend that American businesses need to incorporate some sort of designated hour of rest in the middle of the work day, like siesta or teatime.

Fern said...

Agreed. I've gotten pretty sick of eating lunch in front of my computer, so I am now eating it downstairs in the kitchen. Many studies show that even a power nap boosts productivity, yet nobody wants to be the first one to step out and do it for fear of looking like they are slacking.