The E-Myth Revisited Quick Review

A few days ago I finished The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber. Here’s a quick review:

If you’ve ever wondered why your boss is the way they are, or why you feel like your job is confusing, or that you’re being pulled in all sorts of directions at work you should read this. Even if you have no desire to start a business it’d be worth reading to understand how a successful small business could be setup and run.

Heck, if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t read business books (hi, this was me until recently) I’d still recommend it. If you read it and still don’t want to run a business it will help you understand why someone might want to start, run, and sell their business. Plus, chances are there’s advice in here that if you implement would bring clarity and purpose to your current role even if you’re at the bottom of the org chart.

The book does present a platonic ideal of a business that will rarely match reality; however, in reading it you’ll wonder why more businesses don’t at least try. The core idea is that every business, no matter the size, should be organizing itself to work as a franchise. Or, to put it another way, if you’re the boss, you should organize your business so that it can work without you there. Same for every position in the company. Systematize everything and continually test those systems to maximize their effectiveness. Write down actual scripts and standard operating procedures for how to handle everything and train people on how to stick to them so they can be successful.

This approach requires making a billion decisions and writing them down rather than relying on information that can so often be trapped inside of people’s heads. In the rosy view of the book what you’re left with is a company where everyone understands what they’re doing and why and has all the tools available to them to do it well and efficiently.

It’s an intoxicating thought: imagine if you had perfect clarity of purpose–and the support to execute on that purpose–for your daily tasks? What if everyone in your company had that too?

English majors be warned

This is edited to be appeal broadly to business-y business people. It repeats itself often and is full of anecdotes. The executive summary of it could fit in 10 pages. I think you’d miss some of the impact of it if you did that version, but do know that if you’re a reader of literature you will likely start rewriting sentences in your head on the fly.

Video Games Crunch

Polygon published an article about the crunch and emotional labor that goes into most big budget videogames these days. It’s partly a reaction to someone at Rockstar mentioning multiple 100-hour weeks as part of the development process for Red Dead Redemption 2:

What will be left of the people who make our games?

Crunch exists, however, because the industry is ultimately fueled by emotional labor — the demand that one always be the kind of person willing to endure all of this with a smile…

I cannot fathom how I would be able to call myself a good–or even passable–father or husband or friend and also work multiple 100 hour weeks. Maybe other people have stronger relationships than I do? I’m skeptical.

There are times when, yes, you need to put in extra time on a project. When Scope Creep Studios is close to launching something we essentially add a part-time job on top of our day jobs. However, 100 hour weeks are never necessary. I’d put money down that hours 70-100 (or even hours 40-100) don’t accomplish anything that you couldn’t accomplish in less time with more rest.

Creative projects will always have moments where they go outside of a strict workday schedule. It’s just the nature of the beast. That said: you need to remunerate the peple that work the longer hours, have those hours be optional (like really actually optional), cap those hours, and project manage as if no one will take you up on it. No deadline or creative vision is worth the sacrifice of relationships and health.