Tag Archives: David Heinemeier Hansson

Coming in June for the First Friday Book Synopsis: Daniel Pink’s Drive, and Employee Engagement

For the June First Friday Book Synopsis, I will be presenting a synopsis of the best-selling Daniel Pink book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. This has been well-reviewed, Bob Morris and I have both blogged about it on this site a few times, and it will be a terrific choice to help you think about what motivates you and those around you.

Karl Krayer has chosen a practical book on employee engagement.  All companies want their employees to be fully engaged, but attaining this elusive goal is tough.  The book is Make Their Day!:  Employee Recognition That Works by Cindy Ventrice.

Mark your calendars now for June 4, our June First Friday Book Synopsis.

(and note:  our synopses from this morning — Linchpin by Seth Godin and ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson — should be up on our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com, in just a few days).

A Quote for the Day — from Stanley Kubrick

This is quoted in ReWork by Fried and Hansson.  The quote includes the Kubrick quote, and their commentary…

Until you actually start making something, your brilliant idea is just that, an idea.

Stanley Kubrick gave this advice to aspiring film makers:
“Get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind.”

Stanley Kubrick

Kubrick knew that when you’re new at something, you need to start creating.  The most important thing is to begin…
Ideas are cheap and plentiful…
The real question is how well you execute.

You Really Can’t out-Apple Apple: wisdom from the ReWork guys

News item:  Microsoft will not be building their “it was going to be amazing” Courier tablet.  Read about it in this article, Microsoft Kills ‘Courier’ Tablet (with Update: New reports from Hewlett Packard suggest that HP has scrapped the HP Slate, a tablet unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year).

———————–

ReWork has a very simple piece of advice.  Don’t try to out-Apple Apple.  Here’s the quote:

Focus on competitors too much and you wind up diluting your own vision…  You becomes reactionary instead of visionary.  You wind up offering your competitor’s products with a different coat of paint.

If you’re planning to build “the iPod killer” or “the next Pokeman,” you’re already dead…  You’re not going to out-Apple Apple.  They’re defining the rules of the game.  And you can’t beat someone who’s making the rules.  You need to redefine the rules, not just build something better.

If you’re just going to be like everybody else, why are you even doing this?  If you merely replicate competitors, there’s no point to your existence.

When You Have Fewer Resources — Part 2

I’m preparing my synopsis of ReWork by Fried and Hansson.  And I’m thinking about the people who bemoan the lack of resources.  Here are some words from Rework for such people:

Maybe eventually you’ll need to go the bigger, more expensive route, but not right now.
There’s nothing wrong with being frugal.

I was on a conference call today.  The person in charge of the computer screen was using Basecamp, one of the four products put out by 37Signals — the company founded by the authors of ReWork.  They started small.  They still have relatively few employees, and they are definitely still frugal.  And yet, here is their product, changing the way people manage their information, and plan and implement projects.

You can succeed with less.  Ask the 37Signals guys.

Sometimes a “C-” is not “Good Enough”

Admiral Rickover asks: "Why not the best?"

Why Not The Best?
“In your life was there ever a time in which you did less than the best?” If the answer was “yes,” the follow up question was:  “Why not the best?” – asked by Admiral Hyman George Rickover (Admiral Rickover would ask this of all Naval Cadets, and the story was oft re-told by Jimmy Carter).

Good enough is good enough
“When good enough gets the job done, go for it.  It’s way better than wasting resources (And, remember, you can usually turn good enough into great later”).
Fried and Hansson, ReWork

Think “good enough.”  By “good enough” we mean absolutely, definitely, not our very best, not perfect.  We are actively encouraging you to perform occasionally below standard…  Men are better at saying, “OK, this is good enough in my eyes.”
Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, Womenomics

Six Sigma
Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors).

“Zero Defects”
Zero Defects” is Step 7 of “Philip Crosby’s 14 Step Quality Improvement Process”

————————–

Good enough is good enough – until it is not.  Then good enough is a disaster.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few days.  The thoughts were prompted by a couple of news items, with some numbers buried within the stories that have deeply bothered me, and a whole lot of other folks.

Greenspan argues that a "C-" is "good enough" ("I was right 70 percent of the time.")

Consider these numbers:

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said Wednesday of his two-decade career in government: “I was right 70 percent of the time, but I was wrong 30 percent of the time. And there were an awful lot of mistakes in 21 years.” (read about this here).

“86 percent of mines are safe.” (I heard this stated in an NPR interview by a spokesman defending mine safety – I don’t have a link).

The list is pretty long that describes business decisions, practices, “quality control” issues, where good enough is not good enough.  The airplane safety was not good enough when the President of Poland and a plane load of others died in a crash that, at first reports, may have been caused by an unsafe airplane and pilot error.

Alan Greenspan was clearly not practicing the right levels of “good” when he was only right 70 percent of the time.  In fact, when Greenspan said it, here was the response by the committee chair:

That prompted Phil Angelides, the commission’s chairman, to say Thursday that he would consider himself a success if he was right just 51 percent of the time. “I don’t aspire to reach what Mr. Greenspan thinks he has reached,” he said, in a sardonic tone.

And a mine safety figure of 86 percent mines deemed safe is clearly not good enough – just ask the families of the twenty-nine dead miners, as they labored for a company with an abysmal safety record and an attitude that clearly placed profits over human safety and even human life.

One of the true business and society and life challenges is this one:  when is “good enough good enough” vs. when is “my best” critical?

I agree with the “good enough” movement – except when I don’t.  I don’t mind a “good enough” free pen in a conference center.  I don’t mind receiving a text message with a spelling error.  But I would like the very best airline safety, if you don’t mind.  And when Alan Greenspan argues that his 70 percent right was good enough (that is a “C-” in most grading systems), I think it is time to dust off Admiral Rickover’s question.

A Boatload Of Value – The Fun And Value Of Rework

My blogging colleague Bob Morris has written a number of posts from one book: Rework by Jason Fried and  David Heinemeier Hansson.  I am presenting it at the May First Friday Book Synopsis, and have now read it for myself.  Now I understand why Bob keeps blogging anew from the book.   You find something to comment on and highlight on practically every page, starting with Mark Cubans’s endorsement of the book:

“If given a choice between investing in someone who has read Rework or has his MBA, I’m investing in Rework every time… a must-read.”

It will be difficult to boil down into a synopsis.  It is multiple subjects, very fast-paced observations, and very comprehensive – yet very focused.  Try this for a partial summary:  “get to work, now; don’t hire too many people; you don’t have to work 100 hours a week, just focus and get something done – now!; design products and services that you want and need, and an “audience” will find you;” and the list goes on and on…

Here’s just one quote from the very, very many:

“You should get in the alone zone.  Long stretches of alone time are when you’re most productive.  When you don’t have to mind-shift between various tasks, you get a boatload done.”

This is going to be a fun synopsis.