REWORK: lessons on how to work

ReworkCoverI picked up REWORKthe New York Times Bestseller by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. If you haven’t heard of these guys, take a look at www.37.signals.com

At first when I picked up the book I felt that there were too many chapters and would the short chapters do justice to the interesting topics that I saw in the table of contents? But as I finished reading the last page, I was reeling in thoughts and ideas to implement. One of the best books I have read – to the point, from the heart and very authentic. 

As a project manager the following chapters really intrigued me:

Planning is guessing: Isn’t that true? My biggest takeaway from this chapter was that you have the most information when you are doing something, not before you are doing it. So start doing things on your projects – code, mock ups, customer sessions, test, risk analysis, and stakeholder communication.

Make a dent in the universe: Our projects are not even a speck in this vast universe of ours. Yet if you can find how our projects impact our users or customers, it may inspire you to do something that really matters.

Embrace constraints: I loved the example of Southwest airlines here. I am fan of SouthWest. They only fly Boeing 737s, so any flight attendant can work on any flight. Think about multi skilled team members, they can work on multiple roles on your projects.

You are better off with a kick-ass half, than a half-assed whole: Music to my ears. Please, please embrace this concept on your projects. Don’t build 20% of 10 features, build 100% of three features. It’s faster, cheaper and provides real value to customers.

Throw less at a problem: How many times have we gone back to our sponsors to ask for more money, more resources. Next time you have a troubled project think hard before adding more people or asking for more time. Constraints fuel creativity.

Launch now: This is for all my sponsors. When you impose a deadline, you get clarity. Get to the core of your offering or product. What really matters, focus on it and take the leap. Stop imagining what is going to work, find out for real.

Meetings are toxic: enough said.

Your estimates suck: And they suck terribly. Break things into smaller chunks, so even if your estimate is wrong, it is not wrong by much. A must read chapter for sponsors and team members.

Don’t write it down: What a counterintuitive idea? But I agree, if something is important, it will keep popping up, in meetings, in testing, in user acceptance phases, in pilots, all you have to do is listen and fix it.

Years of irrelevance: We need 7 years of healthcare project management experience. Why? How long a person is doing something is overrated. What matters is how well they have been doing it. Study the career growth of your CIO, VP or Director. You will often find they climbed up the ladder pretty quickly.

Inspiration is perishable: Encourage new ideas and let your teams do the work that inspires them, you will get better quality. If the developers want to use a new approach, a new technology, let them go for it. If the business analyst wants to use a different process let them do it. It’s magical when people do what they love.

I hope and trust that you will pick up a copy of REWORK. And after you have read it, go do it for yourself, for your projects, for your teams.

About Samir Penkar

People, trends and ideas on project management. Get my FREE eBook NExt: a project manager's journey to the next level - when you sign up for updates.
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