When you ask most entrepreneurs or aspiring business builders what books have influenced them most as leaders, you usually get the standard Built to Last, Good to Great, Winning, etc. While all these are great books that we can learn a lot from, I don’t think they translate well to early-stage business and specifically, what many others call the ‘green industry’ (while I think the term itself is meaningless, for simplicity sake we will use the term green industry to describe any business creating a more environmentally friendly or responsible product or technology).
A couple months ago a friend of mine Howie from Barokas PR recommended a different kind of business management book to me....written by the founders of 37Signals (makers of Highrise CRM, Basecamp and other web-based apps for business collaboration and sharing of information), the book is called Rework. Truth be told, we recently looked at using Highrise as our CRM tool but decided it was missing a few key features that we needed. However, I am sure if you asked the authors Jason and David they would say no worries and thank you for looking at it, but we didn’t build it for you, so good luck.
While reading Rework (notice I capitalized the ‘W’ in the title - couldn’t resist, it just looks better) I kept translating the mainly tech focused lessons learned to challenges / opportunities in the ‘green industry’. As most that know me can attest, I am not really the buck the system, avoid SBUX like the plague because it’s “the man”, and kill my TV kind of guy. However, there was something about this book’s 'throw everything you have learned out the door at this stage (for early-stage businesses or products that while different, are better) because the application is wrong' idea that really appealed to me. Bottom line - the so called ‘green industry’ has not worked. In fact, I think in the last two years we have gotten further away from real, sustainable and responsible thought leadership in the marketplace.
Now the industry is more talk about transparency and responsibility then it is about actual execution. It's more about committing a percentage of profits to ‘green’ causes then it is about actually getting to the profits themselves. More talking about reaching the widest audience possible through direct and niche channels without going through big box (because all big box is apparently evil) then it is about creating a business model or product that can actually scale to the point where it will have a real impact (talking about many more zeros than say 3 or 4 here).
Anyway, before the ramble - my intended point was that Rework is an excellent book for anyone looking to build something - a new technology, a new consumer product, or a new more responsible line of zero waste office products (mmmmm...wonder who that is). At it’s core, it’s supply demand, features and requirements, and No BS (stole that from Howie). Enjoy.