Lessons from Rework

Since I got a Kindle for my birthday I’ve been tearing through a number of books. One helpful, quick read was Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It was on my radar for a while, but Josh Reich’s recommendation pushed me over the edge.

Rework feels like you’re reading a series of blog posts — each chapter is short, straightforward and filled with helpful ideas related to leadership, management, and productivity. Not everything translated to church leadership, but much of it did. Additionally, with Fried and Hansson working in a small business environment, there was much that fit well with our current small-but-growing size dynamic.

Here were some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Have you ever noticed that while small businesses wish they were bigger, big businesses dream about being more agile and flexible?” This is so true, especially for churches. It’s easy to be discontent and see the greener grass.
  • “Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”
  • “What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.” This reminds me of the Principle of the Path.
  • “When you want something bad enough, you make the time–regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough…Besides, the perfect time never arrives. You’re always too old or busy or broke or something else. If you constantly fret about timing things perfectly, they’ll never happen.”
  • “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.” This seems to be very true with vision. Clear vision makes decision making much easier.
  • “Don’t use the idea of a startup as a crutch. Instead start with an actual business…Actual businesses don’t mask deep problems by saying, ‘It’s OK, we’re a startup.’ Act like an actual business and you’ll have a much better shot at succeeding.” This principle is something I am trying to reinforce with the church planters I coach.
  • “Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative.”
  • “You can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product real fast by trying to do them all at once.”
  • “Whenever you can, swap ‘Let’s think about it’ for ‘Let’s decide on it.’ Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.” I’m finding that as our church grows in complexity, it’s increasingly important to make decisions quickly or else the ‘let’s think about it’ pile grows way too big.
  • “The menus at failing restaurants offer too many dishes.” This is why we have fought to keep our ministry very simple. We do Sunday and community groups.
  • “The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in.” This is why our ministry is built around the gospel as declared in God’s word. It won’t change. The core needs of human hearts won’t change.
  • “It’s unfortunate that meetings are typically scheduled like TV shows. You set aside thirty minutes or an hour because that’s how scheduling software works. Too bad. If it only takes seven minutes to accomplish a meeting’s goal, then that’s all the time you should spend. Don’t stretch seven into thirty.”
  • “When you stick with your current customers come hell or high water, you wind up cutting yourself off from new ones. Your product or service becomes so tailored to your current customers that it stops appealing to fresh blood. And that’s how your company starts to die.” There’s lots of tension here, but I think there’s an interesting principle at work here, especially for church leadership. As Andy Stanley says, “Will your church focus on reaching people or keeping people?”
  • “Trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth. It’s hard, but you have to be patient. You have to grind it out.”
  • “When something goes wrong, someone is going to tell the story. You’ll be better off if it’s you. Otherwise, you create an opportunity for rumors, hearsay, and false information to spread.”
  • “Remember that negative reactions [to change] are almost always louder and more passionate than positive ones.”
  • “The decisions you make today don’t need to last forever. It’s easy to shoot down good ideas, interesting policies, or worthwhile experiments by assuming that whatever you decide now needs to work for years on end.” This is why I believe firmly in the “Brett Favre Principle” or the “for now” principle. The only constant in organizational life is change.

Which of these stand out to you? Any that you strongly agree or disagree with?

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  1. #1 by Linda Lau on October 30, 2010 - 2:34 pm

    Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”
    This one hits home for me. I tend to be busy to make myself feel good about being productive. However, sometimes I accomplish things that don’t have eternal value. Multitasking is a great skill but I’m trying to maximize my time at home by intentionally training my children and loving my husband.

    “Whenever you can, swap ‘Let’s think about it’ for ‘Let’s decide on it.’ Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.” I’m finding that as our church grows in complexity, it’s increasingly important to make decisions quickly or else the ‘let’s think about it’ pile grows way too big.
    I strongly agree with this principle. Sometimes, we don’t make decisions and move forward because we are afraid of the risks, afraid of the work and commitment, afraid that we will fail. However, sometimes we can see God work in us more when are uncomfortable.

  2. #2 by Vincent chogo on October 17, 2014 - 10:58 am

    Will your church focus on keeping people or reaching people!?so asks andy stanley,

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