I just read two books covering indirectly related topics which complement each other. Those books together make a strong point about how businesses and our jobs should be. The first book is Dan Pink’s Drive — which led me to write a bit about the intrinsic motivations and the future of F/OSS communities by the way. The second is Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.
Drive is spot-on in clarifying the big mismatch between what science knows and what business does with regards to motivation. Pink’s TED talk summarizes very well the point of his book. It’s impressive, and even scary, how so many businesses just don’t get that when you settle on a culture of if-then rewards, treat your employees like irresponsible children, micromanage people all the time, you’ll quickly kill their motivation. That’s what research has shown. We all want to do meaningful stuff, things that allow us to get increasingly better on what we do. When people who are passionate about their work are hired, companies should just let them do their thing without many distractions. It works, trust me.
Rework is a fucking awesome book. The authors are two guys from 37signals, the company that created the famous Ruby on Rails and other nice web apps. This book is call for more down to earth, hands-on, simple, small, smart, flexible, efficient, realistic businesses. The format couldn’t be different: it’s a set of short and straight-to-the-point essays divided into sections like Progress, Hiring, Promotion, Productivity, Evolution, etc. You’ll see things like “Meetings are toxic”, “Underdo your competition”, “Resumés are ridiculous”, “Build half a product, not a half-assed product”, “Press releases are spam”, “Fire the workaholics”, and many other awesome ideas in this book. It was great to see many of the things I have always thought about and expected from companies summarized in a book! Thankfully, this is mostly what I’ve been experiencing at litl so far.
Drive diagnoses the problem of motivation and Rework brings powerful ideas on how to actually do BS-free, hands-on, smart, and agile business.