Shape Up


Shape Up discusses Basecamp’s product process and philosophy.

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Key Takeaways

  1. Shaping – Before any work begins, projects need to be properly “shaped”.This means defining the scope (what problem you’re solving) as well as the appetite (how much time you want to spend on it). It is rough enough where designers have freedom, but constrained enough where they know what problem they’re solving. You also need to define any rabbit holes or risks ahead of time to avoid a time sink
  2. Building in Six-Week Cycles – Work is done in six-week cycles, allowing enough time to build something meaningful but not so long that the project scope creeps. This allows you to build what you want, not what you thought you wanted 6 months ago. If you don’t finish in the time frame, you simply don’t ship it, you don’t extend the time period. During these 6 weeks, Basecamp uses hill charts to track progress so that leadership doesn’t need to bother the team. These charts are based on a certainty to uncertainty period – letting the broader team know if they’re figuring out what to do or getting it done
  3. Cooldown Periods – After each cycle, there’s a two-week cooldown period where teams can tackle fixes, maintenance, or explore new ideas. This helps in managing technical debt and preparing for the next cycle.

What I got out of it

  1. Super actionable and compelling book for anybody building product at any stage of company.

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