Shaping isn't writing
Shaping isn't writing. It's not filling out a template or creating a document. It's getting to that "a-ha" moment together where the parts crystalize and we have something that will work. (Plus an example of how messy a real shaping session looks.)
Three "what about...?" questions when considering Shape Up
Questions about roadmaps, betting at the last minute, iterations, and how shipping what we intended is like driving a car.
The recent wave of layoffs reveals something tricky about the notion of "empowered" product teams. There's a missing ingredient that seems to separate the teams who get cut from the teams who survive.
La Product Conf, Paris
La Product Conf shared the video from my recent talk in Paris: "Scaling Shape Up Beyond Bootstrapped Companies."
Noise factors vs. control factors
On the latest Circuit Breaker podcast, Bob and Greg talked about causal structures. This is when you’re trying to improve a system and, in order to get the effect you want, you first try to understand the mechanism of how the system works.
At 9:00 Bob gave an
Fintech Devcon, Denver
I gave a talk together with Chris Spiek, CPO at Autobooks. We told the story of how Autobooks realized they could no longer apply Shape Up "by the book" and the challenges they faced. Intense growth and new technical challenges led them to bring me in to define a custom-fit
Design systems, modularity and interdependence
This post on LinkedIn got me thinking:
If organisations want to move away from B-grade app experiences, they need to recognise Dev and Design are two distinctly different skill sets. Both require an amount of time to master.
Therefore pointing a Dev to design system won’t result in consumer
Prototyping to learn
The latest Circuit Breaker podcast with Bob and Greg goes into incredible depth on "Prototyping to Learn". When Bob first told me about his approach to prototyping, I balked. The idea of building out multiple versions of something seemed wasteful, like going backwards or sideways instead of forwards. I didn't
Over the last few months I've worked with teams to help them adapt Shape Up to their specific context. Talking to a wider variety of teams has been eye-opening. It's helped me discover many hidden factors that were present at Basecamp when I first wrote the book. This is now
Shaping Up Client Work
I talked with Bruce van Zyl about his experiences working with clients using Shape Up.
Dependencies vs. unknowns when sequencing
A good question came up from a long-time Shape Up adopter:
I’ve noticed you mention two slightly different methods for sequencing:
- The interrelationships diagram
- Getting to the most unknowns first
Have you landed on a preference yet? Are there circumstances where one is better than the other?
News: I'm giving a workshop on how to hand off and break down work
I'm interrupting the normal newsletter format to let you know about a workshop I'm giving. It's called The Confident Handoff. I'm giving it remotely to a small group of early adopters on November 22-23, 2021.
Handoff is that point in time where the pitch goes to the build team to
Shape Up is for features, not all development work
I'm seeing a pattern among successful Shape Up teams.
Companies first try Shape Up on a product team that builds features. They discover a new rhythm of shaping and shipping meaningful changes, and it feels like a victory.
Then, they think "well since Shape Up is working ... we should try
"Done" is relative to what comes next
Right now I'm at the very beginning of a project with lots of unknowns. Starting it exposed me to a common pitfall where scope expands very early in the first steps of a project.
I want to prototype a drag and drop interface to do this kick-off exercise. My plan
Recently I tried a new exercise to systemize the way we kick off projects.
Kick-off is that moment when the person who shaped the work hands it off to the development team. It's an important moment in Shape Up because the dev team takes full responsibility for interpreting the pitch,
Small tools for shaping
I'm experimenting with ways to demonstrate the path from a raw idea to a well-shaped pitch. That is, how to go from "I think we should spend time on X" to "here's a specific concept for X that we're confident we can ship in six weeks."
Sometimes I have a
When work is turned into tickets, our brains shut off. In ticket-land, the work is a given, and it's just a matter of "doing it." This is true for any traditional to-do software.
The thing is, when smart people tackle work, they actually do work on the work to figure
Matching problems to business imperatives
I keep getting questions about the work that happens before shaping a project. How do we decide if a problem is worth shaping? When does a problem deserve further research to frame the problem better?
To answer this, our natural instinct is to weigh problems against each other. We ask
Research gives us the problem, not the answer
I often get asked about how research fits into timeboxed work. If a team is working in a cycle and they can’t decide on a direction, should they do research? How do they fit that in a fixed timebox?
This cuts to a fundamental question of where research belongs.
Some solution vs. no solution
It’s natural to argue over what is the best, most perfect solution. Who would want to build anything less? This is especially true when we have our design or development hats on with a specific idea we hope to see in the final product. But it turns out that
Shorthand for shaping
Here’s a look at some shorthand I’ve been playing with, early in the shaping process.
I use this when I have a bunch of stuff in my head for a design but I don’t know where to start. I don’t know if all the pieces are
Orthogonality is a choice
There are many definitions of orthogonality. For the overlapping worlds of design, engineering and business, we can summarize with this question: what needs to be solved together as one whole, and what can be solved separately? Two things are orthogonal if we can work on one of them without having
Work that energizes
After a few newsletters about defining work with pattern languages, a friend of mine said:
"I don't get it. These pattern languages just look like outlines or specs. What's different?"
Well, okay ... at one level it is just a spec. And maybe focusing too much on the pattern language format
Measuring usage with a Taguchi signal/noise ratio
Bob's been slowly schooling me in Taguchi methods over the last couple years. I'm starting to make some small steps towards applying them to software projects.
My favorite so far is the signal/noise metric. Here's how I understand it so far.
How do we know if a product is
Shaping with pattern languages
I'm re-reading Battle by Christopher Alexander. It shows the exact steps he took to design and build the Eishin Campus in Japan.
I feel like a student in a master class when I'm reading this. The phases he went through map very well to Shape Up concepts, but his methods