Book club in our engineering team – It doesn’t have to be crazy at work

TL;DR

You can read all about how we implemented our 1st book club idea in our engineering team, and in this post, I'm going to do the same but with a new book. In this short post I'll tell you:

  • how we implemented the second book club idea in our engineering team
  • what book we read
  • how we liked it,
  • and share a few learnings, comments and (as I usually do in my book posts) quotes

What book did we read?

We read the book called It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

It seems that the Goodreads and Amazon reviewers liked the book.

However, I’m not really sure why, because this is how much we liked (or better said didn’t) the book. So, 4.5/10 with a max rating of 6 says a lot.

How did we do it?

We read it in only three weeks which means it was a really easy read. This comes down to about 75 pages per week, which amounts to 15 pages per work day.

On average, it took us 2hr and 22 minutes to finish the book, or about 9 minutes per work day.

Here's a short post on the math behind reading 30 books per year in case you're interested.

What did we like?

Even though we didn’t like the book in general, it still had some parts that we liked:

  • Office hours idea
  • Stance towards interviews - and paying for spec work
  • Company is not a family
  • Salary negotiation is crap
  • Calm goodbyes
  • Fridays off during summer

What we didn't like

A lot of the chapters were common sense, and we agreed with them (few mentioned above), but some of the things we just couldn't agree with:

  • No goal setting
  • Not going out of your comfort zone - promoting mediocrity
  • It seems like the whole book is an advertisement for them
  • They support multiple versions
  • This most probably won’t work for a bigger company

Some quotes

As usual in my book posts, here are some quotes that we liked:

  • We don't mind leaving some money on the table, and we don't need to squeeze every drop out of the lemon. Those final drops usually taste sour, anyway.
  • There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
  • Your company is a product. If you want to make the product better, you have to keep tweaking, revising, and iterating.

  • Comparison is the death of joy.

Conclusion

Even though we didn't like the book in general, it definitely wasn't a total waste of time. We already started with the next book (Pragmatic Programmer), and this time we hope the book to be better.

A question for those that already conducted book clubs in your engineering organizations - what books did you read?

Written by Nikola Brežnjak