Sunday, May 31, 2020

Book Summary: It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Another book and another great read for people who want to reclaim a calm lifestyle and get more done with less.

These recent set of books, have made a big impact on how we run our company. The book presents a compelling argument to reclaim the calm lifestyle. It also shows us how we could to do it too. What work principles really matter and which ones are there because of legacy reasons. 

Book Summary

More and more people are spending more and more time at work, but out of the 60, 70, or 80 hours a week people are pouring into work, how many of those hours are really spent on the work itself? Many of the hours are wasted in meetings and doing non-essential discussions and distractions etc. The key isn't more hours but lesser bullshit. Less waste and lesser distractions!

One of the most important thing that I have realised after reading this book is that, "Your company is a product". As with every product, it constantly needs to evolve, iterate on what is working, make it better and throw away what is not working. I had never imagined, the company as a product. Just realising that company could be though as a product, brings newer perspective to things. Typically companies start with some process and then never bother to change them. Do we do that with any of our products? 

Next idea that I liked was, "Make it up as you go". I have to be hones here, none of the big one-year, five-year plans have ever worked. None, not a single one. In fact we have landed at completely different places. The book talks about keeping short-term plans only, typically lasting about 6 week. What to do after that? Take learnings from the previous execution and execute another short-term 6 week plan. 

The biggest impact this book makes when it talks about defending your time at work. Do not break your time into small chops of 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, 10 minutes another meeting etc. Doing good work is hard enough and to do it right, you need to have long periods of undivided attention. 60 minutes could be broken in many different ways 1x60 or 2x30 or 4x15, the quality of hour we are after is 1x60. 

Plan for eventual response rather than immediate response. Lot of times we have a habit of pinging someone and expecting a response immediately. This needs to change, the other person might be in the middle of something important. If it isn't a crisis (which it isn't most of the time) there is no good reason to disturb the other person. Breaking the flow is a productivity killer. If you need something from someone, send them an email and they would respond whenever they see the email, may not be now, may not be in an hour but could be at the end of the day. If it's truly urgent, then use an old invention called a phone call.

Another incredible point the book makes is about "The trust battery". 

The trust battery is charged at 50% when people are first hired. Then every time you work with someone at the company, the trust battery between the two is either charged or discharged based on things like whether you deliver on what you promise. 
This is a powerful idea, it helps us in assessing work relationships with greater clarity. A low trust battery is at the core of many personal disputes at work. When the battery is drained, everything is wrong, everything is judged harshly.

Commitment and not consensus, someone in charge has to make the final call, even if others would prefer a different decision. Good decisions don't so much need consensus as they need commitment. Companies waste an enormous amount of time and energy trying to convince everyone to agree before moving forward on something. Instead they should allow everyone to be heard and then turn the decision over to one person to make the final call. It's their job to listen, consider, contemplate and decide.

Launch and learn, it's as simple as, if you want to know the truth about what you have built, you have to ship it! 


These are some of the things that had the biggest impact on me. This by no means is a good summary of the book, I would encourage you to grab your copy and read it today. It has a lot more to offer!

Have some Fun!