Shaping in Real Life
An Intensive Video Course + Workshop
with Ryan Singer
Shaping in Real Life is an intensive course that lifts the fog and shows you how real-world teams apply Shape Up in practice.
The course might be for you if you've in a situation where teaching yourself from a book or scavenging for videos online isn't enough. One of these things might be happening:
- Your team's not delivering on time or at the right quality, and people are starting to point fingers.
- You're building up a new team and you don't want to do things the old way anymore (sprints, agile rituals, etc).
Over the last couple years, I've worked with a wide variety of companies with very different structures — teams with big gaps between junior and senior levels, where programmers far out-number the designers, or where time constraints make long six-week cycles out of the question.
The key to helping teams in such circumstances has been to break apart the "pure" system of Shape Up into separate, focused practices they can adopt one-by-one, and then gradually combine them into a process that's custom-fit for the organization. After going through this with different companies, definite patterns emerged, and I'm very excited to share these techniques with you in this course.
After this two-week intensive course, you'll be able to:
- Speak a common language across product, design, and engineering.
- See what's slowing you down and find concrete ways to start moving the needle again.
- Crystalize your understanding so you can define a new process that suits your specific team.
How the course works
- We offer the course in small cohorts of ~20 people, 3-4 times a year.
- 11 intensive video lessons, under 20 minutes each, released one-per-day.
- The lessons include examples from eight real-life projects and six different teams. Each lesson is followed by "Make it Real" questions that help you connect what you learned to your situation.
- Shaping workshop with Ryan over Zoom to build hands-on confidence before you hold a shaping session with your team.
- Group Q&A session with Ryan over Zoom at the end to fill any gaps.
- Tickets are $2,500 per seat.
(You can also ask about a private cohort. We can schedule a course for 5 to 20 members of your team. Reach out to Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Detailed Outline of the Course
Foundational Lesson: Hills and Time Bombs
- Build the mental model you'll use to work on your product process
Module 1: Supply Side
Lesson 1: How to Evaluate Shaped Work
- Tracing delivery problems back to the shaping phase
- Understanding what builders need to succeed within time constraints
Lesson 2: Who Shapes
- Involving technical people to find viable options earlier
- Using interaction design as the bridge between design and tech
- How to stop producing design work that doesn't get built
- How the product role helps make trade-offs
Lesson 3: Shaping Sessions
- Setup and tools to run a shaping session
- Breadboarding technique, case study
- System Language technique, case study
- Parts and Paths technique to try alternate approaches at once, case study
Lesson 4: Spiking
- Answering unknowns in the shaping process that require digging deeper
- Spiking in different domains: high-fidelity design, code, security, legal
- How to make sure spikes come back with actionable information
Lesson 5: Packaging
- How to prepare the delivery team to work autonomously in the time box
- Recognizing issues with common kick-off practices
- Deciding how much design up-front to do based on schedule and availability
- Techniques to use scarce designer time more effectively
Lesson 6: Handoff
- Catch gaps in understanding between junior and senior engineers
- Ensure that what the team builds matches the original intent
- Learn a tool to "see what they see" when handing over work
- Diagnose shaping issues with the handoff tool
Shaping Workshop over Zoom
- Shaping sessions in breakout groups
- Q&A with Ryan about Module 1
Module 2: Demand Side
Lesson 7: Introduction to Framing
- Defining the problem to get long-desired projects unstuck
- Using stronger data to get alignment on undervalued projects
Lesson 8: How to Frame
- How to run framing sessions
- Building the case with data
- Doing demand-side interviews to define the problem, case study
- Using the frame to test and validate ideas in shaping sessions
Lesson 9: Framing & Prioritization
- Using framing to give projects "staying power" in the face of challenges
- Managing the perception vs. reality of idea boards and road maps
- Planning multi-cycle projects
Tying it all Together
Lesson 10: Three Levels of Adoption
- Using the language and tools in your current process
- How to run a pilot project
- Decisions and options for designing your product process
- Final pointers
Q&A Session over Zoom
- Q&A with Ryan and next steps discussion