Corey Coogan

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Reviewing “Getting Real” and “REWORK” by 37 Signals

Posted by coreycoogan on September 15, 2010

NoMojo I’ve recently been in a funk.  I felt as though a big part of my Mojo was missing.  I’ve been in a bit of a dead-end gig lately where the work brings me little to no joy, so that could have something to do with it.  On the other hand, I have a fun side project that I’m trying to get off the ground, but it’s been almost impossible to get motivated in the last several months.  Part of this is due to the side work I do at night, but mostly it’s as simple as a loss of Mojo.

I’m fascinated with 37 Signals (highly recommend their blog). Not only from a technical perspective, but also from a UI Design and business standpoint as well.  I have been poking around the free eBook version of Getting Real for while.  One day, while wallowing in my funk, I decided to buy Getting Real and REWORK from Amazon and search for some inspiration.

Inspiration

I found my lost Mojo!  Reading these books helped revive my passion for software development.  They got me excited about the side project again – so much so that I removed the half completed features and deployed what I have so I could launch the blog to start building relevance and begin driving traffic.

Getting Real

Getting Real says it’s about building “a successful web application “, but it’s about so much more.  It covers a wide range of business concepts as well and was really fun to read.  This book emphasizes simplicity.  Keep things simple and deploy.  Don’t get bogged down in analysis paralysis.  That’s what happened to me with RoomParentsOnline.com.  I got so consumed with the “simplest” way of making the classroom portion self governing, yet safe and secure for the students, that I ended up conceiving a solution that was so complex and difficult to start, my brain just shut down and found excuses not to work on the project.

After reading Getting Real, my whole thought process of handling features changed.  I reevaluated what I was doing and found a solution that is 1000 times simpler and probably just as effective.  It also helped get things in perspective about how cheap and easy it is to try something and deploy.  Get people using your product.  If it sucks, change it.  In many cases, the details we obsess over are meaningless to the end user.  I’ve always tried to follow the Agile mantra of “Simplest Solution that could Possibly Work”, but I somehow drifted.

I highly recommend this book for anyone doing web development or involved in web development.  It’s an eye opener and a breath of fresh air.

REWORK

This is another amazing book.  Unlike Getting Real, REWORK is not specifically about developing web applications, but about business and succeeding in it.  The back cover says a lot of what this book is all about:

ASAP is poison
Underdo the competition
Meetings are toxic
Fire the workaholics / emulate drug dealers
Pick a fight
Planning is guessing
Inspiration is perishable

Before reading the book, I subscribed to most of these ideas.  I hate wasting time in meetings and nothing drives me more insane than documentation for the sake of documentation.  BDUF is a proven failure, yet it continues to dominate big Corporate America.  After reading REWORK, I was so happy to hear that breaking away from this mentality can work – and there’s proof.

A fair amount of content from Getting Real is repeated in REWORK, but not enough for me to recommend one book over the other.  Since reading it, I’ve been recommending it all over the place.  This book is a must-read and I wish I could send every client, every partner and every consultant I work with a fresh new copy.

The theme is the same as Getting Real.  Do things simple and do them fast.  Say NO to new features until they come up again and again – then you know they have real value.  The authors do a great job of citing their own successes, as well as those of other companies.  They also use simple metaphors that are easy to understand and fun to read.  I strongly encourage anyone reading this blog to get your copy immediately and read it.

Conclusion

Getting Real and REWORK are fast and easy reads and I found the casual writing style felt like I was a conversation with the authors.  Both books are phenomenal and capable of being real game changers when read with an open mind.  So please, when you do read them, be open.  Don’t hold on to your old way of thinking.  Do yourself the favor of entertaining the ideas in these books so you can appreciate the true merit.

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