12 Observations From The Business Trenches For Getting Things Done

Barry L. Linetsky

There’s a class of books I refer to as Bathroom Reading. 

These are books that are structured such that you can read for a couple of minutes and then stop – books like The Daily Drucker; or astronaut Chris Hadfield’s book of space photographs, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes; or Rework by software company 37signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

I just finished reading Rework and enjoyed it. The authors share their sometimes irreverent and non-traditional wisdom and experiential observations about how to start, grow, and manage a new business. Each essay is one-to-two-pages in length and there isn’t a lame duck in the whole collection. Many are worth pondering with your management team to assess how you are doing and to discover ways to improve your business practices and outcomes.

Here are a dozen of my favorite quotes from the book.

Learning from mistakes is overrated. “What do you really learn from mistakes? You might learn what not to do again, but how valuable is that? You still don’t know what you should do.”

Planning is guessing. “Working without a plan may seem scary. But blindly following a plan that has no relationship with reality is even scarier.”

Workaholism. “Not only is this workaholism unnecessary, it’s stupid. Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.”

Draw a line in the sand. “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.”

Start a business, not a startup. “The truth is every business, new or old, is governed by the same set of market forces and economic rules. Revenue in, expenses out. Turn a profit or wind up gone.”

Build half a product, not a half-assed product. “So start chopping. Getting to great starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good.”

Making the call is making progress. “Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward. … You can’t build on top of ‘We’ll decide later,’ but you can build on top of ‘Done.’”

Who cares what they’re doing? “Focus on competitors too much and you wind up diluting your own vision. Your chances of coming up with something fresh go way down when you keep feeding your brain with other people’s ideas. You become reactionary instead of visionary.”

Say no by default (1). “People avoid saying no because confrontation makes them uncomfortable. But the alternative is even worse. You drag things out, make things complicated, and work on ideas you don’t believe in.”

Say no by default (2). “It’s better to have people be happy using someone else’s product than disgruntled using yours.”

They’re not thirteen. “When everything constantly needs approval, you create a culture of nonthinkers. You create a boss-versus-worker relationship that screams, ‘I don’t trust you.’”

Inspiration is perishable. “When you’re high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty-four hours. Inspiration is a time machine in that way.”

© 2019, Barry L. Linetsky, All Rights Reserved.

Barry Linetsky is the author of The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success, published by Theme Park Press and available from amazon. Barry is a strategy and organizational development consultant in Toronto, Canada

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