In the book Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanssone of 37signals take a critical look at marketing, hiring, and other practices associated with building a business.
The book:Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson; Crown Business; March 2010.
The big idea: Rework takes aim at marketing, hiring, and other disciplines associated with building a business as if they were bottles lined up against a wall. Then it blows them away.
The backstory: Fried (who is joining Inc. as a columnist in April) co-founded the Web-application company 37signals, and Hansson later joined as a partner. They are big believers in what others call transparency, though they loathe business jargon with a white-hot passion.
Simplify, simplify: Fried and Hansson are the Henry David Thoreaus of entrepreneurship. They preach doing less and embracing constraints. That leads to counterintuitive advice, such as stop tailoring your product for existing customers and deliver less than your competition.
Attitude: Unlike most business books, Rework is written with genuine voice -- a sometimes cranky and profane voice at that.
If you read nothing else: Rework is composed of brief lessons delivered in unadorned prose on pages with fat margins and lots of pictures. You can finish it over lunch, so no need to skip anything.
Rigor rating: 7 (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). The advice is based almost exclusively on the experiences of 37signals, which are compelling but not necessarily representative. Some other, cursory examples are culled from magazines and websites.
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan