Why we transitioned from Sprints to Basecamp’s “Shape Up” methodology

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Highlights

  • Large epics always overlapped into additional sprints
  • little time to pause, review, and refine the process itself
  • Reflection every few weeks is key to growth.
  • Our decisions should solely be based on moving the product forward in the next six weeks, not micromanaging time.

Dual Tracks: Shaping & Building

  • asked to swarm a project together and give it their undivided attention to see it through to completion.
  • During any six-week cycle, teams are building work that’s been previously shaped,
  • Two tracks when in-cycle (6 weeks):
    1. Building: Uninterrupted work on approved pitches
    2. Shaping: Gathering requirements for the next cycle
  • Work on the shaping track is kept private and not shared with the wider organization until the commitment has been made to bet on it (see “betting”).
  • The main focus of shaping is to go really deep into understanding the problem
    • Understand the audience (users or stakeholders) and any insights (qualitative or quantitative) that help you understand the problem or the user more.
  • The Pitch’s ingredients include:
    • Problem Statement
    • Audience
    • Insights
    • Appetite
    • Solutions
    • Rabbit Holes
    • Out of Scope (no-gos)
    • Success
  • Trust the team to take on the entire project and work within the boundaries of the pitch (see setting boundaries/appetite). The team is going to define their own tasks and their own approach to the work.
  • They have to acquaint themselves with the relevant code, think through the pitch, bring up questions, and go down some short dead ends to find a starting point.
  • Backlogs are often big time wasters and anxiety builders.
  • Another concept that might help you let go of backlogs is that important ideas come back,
  • you host a betting table to decide what to build next cycle. This meeting should be extremely focused on reviewing what was previously shaped, and the deliverable of the meeting is a few pitches we decide to build next cycle — these are our “bets”. Anything not bet on, we let go of it for now, but they can be bet on again next cool down if you decide to.
  • Bets have a payout.
  • The pitch defines a specific payout that makes the bet worth making.
  • Bets are commitments. If we bet six weeks, then we commit to giving the team the entire six weeks to work exclusively on that thing with no interruptions.
  • smart bet has a cap on the downside.
  • We don’t allow ourselves to get into a situation where we’re spending multiples of the original estimate for something that isn’t worth that price.
  • Who takes part in the betting table?
  • highest people in your company,
  • buy-in and alignment from the very top

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