Tom The Architect

Technology and other Interesting Stuff

Category: Book Review

Book Review: Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

I first heard of 37 Signals back in 2004, and found their approach to design very much aligned with my design ideals of simple, fast, and always available. At the time, I was interested in getting 37 Signals to do a one page redesign for a web site I was working on. It never happened, as they were transitioning from a consulting company to product company and were not interested. I had the chance to meet both Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson at the Web 2.0 Conference in 2005 and listen to Jason Fried’s talk about Less as a competitive advantage. Rework is just the logical extension of that talk. Being in the room and in the hallway after his talk, in the land of venture capital, there were skeptics to say the least. 37 Signals has been proving those skeptics wrong every day since.

Rework takes the same approach 37 Signals has taken with all the things they have created, focus on simplicity. The book in my mind is a collection of byproducts from their efforts to create a business. The idea for almost each essay can be found in the conversation they have been having with anyone who would listen. Just like the points Jason made in his talk Less Money, Less People, Less Time, Less Abstractions, Less Software, and More Constraints; Now packaged for More Convenience and as DHH would like to say More Profits.

The book is a fast read and having followed the 37 Signals conversation since 2004 it contains refinements and elaborations on many points. It is a great book and the ideas can be just as powerful to an individual as they are to a company.

I am not going to try and chop it up like a highlight reel, just read it for yourself its worth the effort.

Death By Meeting By: Patrick M. Lencioni

Death by Meeting : A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business I just finished “Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business” by Patrick M. Lencioni. The book was of a manageable length and provided an interesting insight into meetings. Building upon the 5 dysfunctions of a team, this book was worth the effort. It provided at minimum a process managing and participating in meetings. The book is written in a fable format similar other books by the author. I would recommend the book to anyone who is trying to improve how they hold and plan meetings.

The Price of loyalty By: Ron Suskind

The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill I was given the Price of Loyalty by a friend who is well read and no friend of 43. I must say that this was a compelling read and worth the time and late nights. I found the evolution of Paul O’Neill’s contempt for the circle surrounding 43 to be the most interesting part of the book. The book does not portray Dick Cheney in a positive light. The treatment of Cheney is not surprising and may be the result of Paul O’Neill’s long personal history with Dick Cheney. The book also discusses the first discussions in the NSC focusing on Iraq. I can see why the administration made such a stink when the news of this book surfaced.

I can say that this book left me feeling as if 43 lied to us from the start.

A must read before you vote.

The wisdom of Crowds By: James Surowiecki

I have now completed my second reading of The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. I found the book fascinating and insightful. The book provides a great deal of support for the idea that given the proper conditions a crowd will almost always be smarter that any individual over time. For a crowd to achieve the highest intelligence it must be diverse, be composed of independant parts, decentralized and provide for aggregation of group knowledge. One of the examples given in support of the wisdom of crowds was the search for the USS Scorpion conducted by John Craven. The story of craven and his search can be found in more detail in “Blindman’s Bluff” by Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew and Annette Lawrence Drew.

The One Minute Manager

I read “The one Minute Manager” By Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson on the recommendation of a friend. I found the book interesting and straight forward in its approach. If you are looking for a book that provides a fundamental model for managing people this book could be of assistance. I found the method used to describe a one minute manager interesting and easy to read. The only flaw in the book is that it leaves a gap around leadership. It provides context for managing people but it does not lay out a context for leading people. I would recommend this book it should be in every manager’s library.

Jesus CEO By:Laurie Beth Jones

I picked this book up in an airport bookshop, with no preconceived notions of what it might be. In my search to become a better leader, I found the book compelling and was unable to put the book down. I do not claim to be a biblical scholar and this book didn’t require it. Simply, this book is a good primer for a leader looking to understand what leadership is.

Pick it up, its worth it.

TC