The review was defensive, because 37signals prove that many typical management techniques are not necessary for success. This is a status risk for the review author, who derives his livelihood from telling people about another right way to do things, and told me more about him than about the book.
Sorry, but I just absolutely detest this sort of writing, where you make outlandish claims, then fallback to a ridiculously obvious position. It's a bait+switch, and it's used way too often. You don't get any real insight, you just read what you already know.
Meetings Are Toxic
Don't have meetings
For those times when you absolutely must have a meeting
(this should be a rare event), stick to these simple rules:
And the advice is just ridiculously obvious to anyone with a brain. "Never have a meeting without a clear agenda."
Are all the startups here having meetings every day without any vague sort of agenda? Would they blindly keep having meetings if they proved to be unproductive? no.
It's great that 37signals have worked this out, but I don't think there's many people who don't know it/can't figure it out for themselves.
>> And the advice is just ridiculously obvious to anyone with a brain. "Never have a meeting without a clear agenda."
The thing is that in many places it's not obvious. There are a lot of people who spent many years in companies where this wasn't a common practice and they just don't know any better. It's not that these people aren't smart, they've just never seen anything different. Having a 1 hour meeting with a dozen people to solve the most simple problems is just "how things are done".
Let me make a quick analogy.
To a lot of people here, the idea that XP, SCRUM, and other agile development methodologies are a much better way of developing software is "obvious". To many, many people in larger companies it's definitely not obvious. They have decades of experience doing things using waterfall, and most of them have never worked at a place that did anything else. It's just "how things are done".
If you think all of these things are obvious, then this book is likely not for you. For lots of people, this book contains ideas that are very different from what they're accustomed to. That's who will get the most out of this book (or other books of its kind).
And the advice is just ridiculously obvious to anyone with
a brain. "Never have a meeting without a clear agenda."
Uhm, you assume that someone is actually using brains in average corporation. There is a book titled "Why Do Business Speak like Idiots" (http://fightthebull.com/), worth a read.
As the saying goes, common sense is not so common. Do you know many employees in average corporation who like going to meetings and value them? Meetings there happen because managers think it is a good way to manage. Organizing meeting also keeps someone busy—and the common trait is to confuse busyness with productive work.
There are lots of things obvious to anyone with a brain and those things never get applied because "that's not the way to do things", "that's not our culture", etc. What "Rework" does is to encourage you to challenge those widely accepted traditions.
BTW, I highly recommend Ricardo Semler's "Maverick" and "The Seven-Day weekend" to anyone who even remotely like the stuff 37signals write. Semler also speaks a lot about applying common sense to business. Their stance on meetings is simple—no one is required to attend. If you organize a meeting and nobody shows up, that simply means no one is interested in your idea.