Rework Book Summary – An Unconventional Business Book by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Jason Fried, the co-founder of Basecamp, compiled some of the best business practices in the best-seller Rework. Basecamp was one of the first companies to develop a software application, which is widely used today to run sites such as Twitter, GitHub, and even Shopify. Rework is about making less with more and challenges the notion that success is only done through hard work.

Rework Summary

Rework is one of those books where the title is short and sweet. Rework is extremely descriptive of its contrarian approach to productivity. Due to recent events, remote work and finding alternative ways for communication is now much more prevalent and Fried has rewritten one of his books for 2021 titled “Remote“.

rework book summary

In 2010 the release of Rework popularized the concept that entrepreneurship and alternative working practices should not be revolutionary, and should not only be for entrepreneurs.

While most of the concepts in this book are geared for fledgling business owners that are about to embark on their journey, Fried explains the practices and work ethic that were disseminated at Basecamp, a top-down approach that encouraged workers to focus on outcomes rather than vanity metrics.

If there is anything to take away from this book, it is to keep yourself extremely lean and to not overextend and try and be fancy. Remain honest, remain humble and focus on success; Steady and focus are big themes throughout this book.

Best ideas from the book Rework

Here are the 3 main ideas found throughout Rework:

Build Something Worth Fighting For

Beginning with the end in mind is of utmost importance when starting a business or new project. The issue comes with defining what the end goal is. If the end goal is an exit strategy, such as selling the company and retiring as quickly as possible, the venture will be doomed from the start.

Fried explains that for a business to be successful, it needs to be something innovative or worth fighting for. Fried believes that picking fights with larger competitors and creating controversy that your way is better in many ways is a great way to get customers on your side.

For example, many apps and businesses are focusing on consumer convenience. While this is a great idea, it can sometimes create problems between advertising and the actual benefit to the client.

For example, some workout apps advertise themselves as being quick and effective with five-minute workout plans, when in reality, the implied results in the messaging cannot feasibly come from only a five-minute workout.

Seeing this, an entrepreneur can “pick a fight”, that is, creating a customized app that has specified workout times and nutrition tips that work around goals for the body rather than just convenience.

Quick And Honest Relates To Your Clients

The biggest problem with large corporations and traditional businesses is that they are slow to move and the bureaucracy hurts profits and messaging. The biggest issue comes with marketing and branding as the company develops. Giant companies can move quickly in some areas, such as individual departments, but messaging and marketing affect the entire brand.

Think about the last time a bank or other large organization sent you an email or letter. Was the letter/email even opened? (provided it was just promotional) Did you fall asleep reading it if you did? Now think about a local business that sends handwritten notes or garage sales. You are more likely to open up a package that feels personal, relatable, and friendly.

Fried stipulates that no matter how large the company gets, every organization needs to adopt these types of practices to stay relevant. A great example is Wendy’s and their use of Twitter or Duolingo and their use of TikTok.

Wendy’s is widely known for its Twitter account with an attitude, frequently posting friendly rival tweets to competitors and having witty banter with their more difficult clients. Duolingo, one of the fastest-growing language learning apps, is known for its mascot account page that always has a comeback to all comments and formed a culture of “fear” that if you don’t do your lessons, the mascot will come and scold you.

It is through these examples where we can see that the classic advice given in 2010 from Rework has been incorporated into today’s message, and you should do the same. Pick a fight with competitors, remain candid, and use the power of social media for good instead of envy.

Focus On Action, Plans Always Change

Earlier in the summary, vanity metrics were mentioned. Vanity metrics are statistics that are often kept by organizations to prove productivity. The problem with this is not optimizing the statistics, but measuring the wrong things.

Things like hours worked, phones dialed, and plans made are causing a decrease in productivity instead of the opposite. Meaningful metrics, such as sales meeting closed, the value of affiliates/partnerships, and employee productivity should be used instead.

A concept first made popular in Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek popularized the idea that the typical workday is not spent working. The issue with this is that it was not popular at the time, and employees or business owners had to appear productive while their work was already done. Fried takes this a step further and encourages business owners to make this a top-down approach.

Employees and partners should know what matters is outcome and results. If a project was meant to be completed in 10 days but was completed in 2, employees should not fear turning it in quickly and being loaded with more work. This encourages a culture of openness and teamwork rather than faking productivity to clock out on time.

Review of Rework & Should You Read This?

If this review were written right after the launch of Rework, the ideal audience would have been both young entrepreneurs trying to start a business or veteran entrepreneurs that felt were losing control of their agile company and turning into a bleak corporation.

With the immense shift to remote work and organizations crossing borders, everyone, business owners and employee alike need to manage their time effectively as micromanaging is starting to diminish. Fried’s rework and newer titles seem to scratch that itch.


Rework changes the mindset that productivity is only linked to hustle. There is a global shift from praise for long hours worked to a serious crackdown on burnout. Companies and countries alike are starting to crack down on this issue with remote work, with some laws and bylaws mandating that contact is not allowed on days off and setting clear boundaries for work hours. Wherever you are in your life, Rework is a great book to pick up.

Marilyn Nissen
Written by Marilyn Nissen

Marilyn Nissen is the founder of, a highly reputable book summary and reviews website. With over a decade of experience in summarizing and reviewing books, Marilyn is a trusted authority in the book industry.