At the end of October, we met for our second monthly book club meeting. This time, we read the book REWORK, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37signals, now called Basecamp.

REWORK is broken up into several bite-sized essays, none longer than three pages. Each essay focuses on a specific business principle the authors recommend, and is accompanied by a simple drawing that illustrates the principle being highlighted.

For example, one section, entitled “Draw a Line in the Sand,” emphasizes deciding precisely what your company’s identity is, and figuring out exactly what aspects of that identity you are willing to fight for. “As you get going,” the writers recommend, “keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing. Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service.” Not only does this help to create a cohesive identity for the employees, it also simplifies all future decision making. “When you don’t know what you believe,” the section continues, “everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.” Some of the other sections we discussed in our meeting include the following:

  • “ASAP is Poison,” which encourages asking for specific deadlines rather than just asking for results “as soon as possible”
  • “Illusions of Agreement,” which identifies the necessity of beginning something concrete rather than spending too much time on abstract planning. Otherwise, you risk people involved in a project crafting different images in their own mind of what the same project is supposed to be.
  • “Nobody likes Plastic Flowers,” which led to a discussion on finding the line between being professional and being fake.

These are only a few of the topics the discussion touched on. The interesting thing, however, is that among those who attended, there were some strong disagreements on a few of the points made in the book. Each person had their own perspective, and offered different insights. Far from being divisive, though, the discussions led to new ideas on ways we can continue to improve 97th Floor.

This month, we will be reading The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor, a Harvard graduate and founder of The Institute for Applied Positive Research. Follow the #97thbookclub hashtag on Twitter for updates!

Read about last month’s book club meeting, where we discussed Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc., here.