Books, Business Strategy, Remote Work

Review of The Year Without Pants

For the last few months, the book “The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work” by Scott Berkun has come across my radar. It was recommended by several articles and posts. I finally bit the bullet and bought the book (Kindle edition).

This book is – without hesitation – the best business book that I have read. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Berkun writes about his year (and a few months) working for Automattic, the company behind WordPress and He writes about business strategy, culture, teams, projects, software development, remote work, and many other business topics. But, unlike most business books, Berkun presents the business ideas in a story form. You will not find a chapter on the four reasons for working remotely or the five ways to develop software. Instead, he peppers his story with what he learned about each topic during his tenure at Automattic.

And, perhaps the most important aspect of this book, Berkun does not present his findings as THE answer for all businesses. In fact, he recognizes that culture as well as business strategy will most often (should) dictate HOW businesses answer the questions related to teams, projects, work, etc.

For example, he writes near the beginning of the book (pg 29):

Rarely do the consultants championing, and profiting from, these ideas disclose how superficial the results will be unless they’re placed in a culture healthy enough to support them. No technique, no matter how good, can turn stupid coworkers into smart ones. And no method can magically make employees trust each other or their boss if they have good reason not to.

And again near the end of the book (pg 230):

Here in the last chapter of the book, I can’t tell you to simply copy what Automattic has done. It’d be foolish to tell you that since every company and person is different. But I can tell you this: they have answered many important questions the working world is afraid even to ask

I enjoyed reading how Berkun, his team, and the wider Automattic staff made decisions and moved into a team-based project management (although it probably didn’t look like what most people call project management).

Finally, since I started using WordPress about the time that Berkun started working for Automattic, I enjoyed reading about projects, features, and events that directly related to my blogging, including IntenseDebate, JetPack, and WordCamps.

Again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you are in any kind of business… read it.

Disclaimer: I purchased this book myself. I was not provided a review copy. I was not asked to review this book.

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