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Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters

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4.41  ·  Rating details ·  790 ratings  ·  110 reviews
This is an online web book about how Basecamp does their work.

"This book is a guide to how we do product development at Basecamp. It’s also a toolbox full of techniques that you can apply in your own way to your own process.

Whether you’re a founder, CTO, product manager, designer, or developer, you’re probably here because of some common challenges that all software compa
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Published 2019
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Bjoern Rochel
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, eng-mgmt
Contains a lot of good, sane advice on how to structure software development efforts and gave me quite a few ideas that I would like to try out at some point (hill diagrams for status reporting, their form of triaging, bets, their cadence, etc).

Thoroughly enjoyed it. A typical Basecamp book
Felipe Gonçalves Marques
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book explains with very good details the process of Product Development in Basecamp.
And, IMO, it is one of the best implementations of Agile practices I ever read/seem. While most of the Scrum practices in companies become a "rush to deliver" methodology. What is presented by Ryan Singer is much more focused in delivering value and focusing in communication.

A few interest points is the cycle length, which is pretty long. – normally people stay in one week and half or two, and checking proces
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Al Pop
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is two things - it lays out the way the people at Basecamp, the company, work and serves as a detailed manual to Basecamp, the product. It cohesively describes how all the features of the software are supposed to be used, how they fit together, as well as the reasoning behind each of them. There are concrete examples for every concept explained. Many of ideas are examined at different angles depending on the context of the current chapter. The book has nice visual design with well-anno ...more
Stefan Schmager
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shape Up is a short but worthwhile read when it comes to critically assess your own software development processes. I don’t fully agree with all the points made, but would consider most of them true, helpful and valuable based on my personal experience.

If you have read other books from the Basecamp family, you might find the ideas redundant. But the advices given are mostly very actionable and can be applied (with various efforts).

It should help you in terms of prioritising and scoping work as
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Alla
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not only did I enjoy reading this book, it gave me a better understanding of what I really want from a good work-related book.

First of all, it’s short and concise - 130 pages is very easy to commit to and I finished it in a short time for someone who reads 5-10 books in parallel. It also tells be that the authors respect my time, there is no fluff padding to the core ideas.

The book is free and not printed yet, maybe that is why it is unapologetically specific to Basecamp’s way of doing things a
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Arturo Herrero
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another great book by the people of Basecamp.

The Shape Up method:
- Shaped versus unshaped work
- Designing at the right level of abstraction
- Setting appetites instead of estimates
- Concepting with breadboards and fat marker sketches
- Making deliberate commitments—bets— instead of feeding the machine
- Choosing the right cycle length (six weeks)
- A cool-down period between cycles
- Breaking projects apart into scopes
- Downhill versus uphill work and communicating about unknowns
- Scope hammering to
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Jano Suchal
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a world of software development, where we follow agile ceremonies (daily standups, retrospectives, backlogs) this is a very fresh take on what it means to be truly agile, pragmatic a ship early work that really matters.
Manas Saloi
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ryan Singer is a God. Probably the best book I have read on managing a project. The ideas of taking bets, scoping and plotting scopes in hills were amazing. Please read this if you work in tech :)
Timon Ruban
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the intro of “Thinking Fast and Slow” Kahnemann describes his book as an attempt to enrich the vocabulary of "watercooler conversation”. By giving people more precise language to work with, he hopes to enable more succinct and intelligent conversations. “Oh, that sounds like you’re falling prey to the availability heuristic” carries much more meaning than saying “Don’t you think you might be overestimating this, because you maybe read about it in the newspapers recently?”. In the days after r ...more
Eric Connelly
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
I'm a big fan of Basecamp and whatever they want to write. I love the work they've done to think clearly and edit fully. This book is ideal for managers of software teams and (like Rework) is remarkably short and simply written. You can easily fly through it in a week, and get a lot of valuable ideas out of it.

For me some of the key takeaways were about
- the two parallel tracks of shaping (managers) and doing (dev teams)
- shaped work means a rough solution with clear scope boundaries
- use 6 w
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Stella Miranda
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great insights! Currently trying part of the process at work :)
Andrea Rossi
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book is a quick read and it does a nice job at explaining how product development is done at Basecamp. Their practices fit well together and make a lot of sense, and even if a company is not going to adopt them 1:1, there are a lot of good concepts that are worth considering (shaping the work, timeboxed bets, managing well the scope, easy to read progress reports..). Totally recommended
Gary
We had a lively discussion about Shape Up at work after reading it for a book club. The most widespread criticism was that the Shape Up approach wouldn't necessarily work well for products that are not similar to Basecamp.

On the other hand, even months later we still bring up examples from this book in work discussions around how we manage projects. So the book is definitely a great source of inspiration, and it provides a novel perspective from which to evaluate your own company's project manag
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Jordan
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book on the lifecycle of projects at Basecamp with some nice abstractions for thinking about your own work. It's not clear how immediately applicable this is for a solo developer, but the ideas are very interesting and they are concrete in a way that's rare with these kinds of workflow books.
César
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. It shows that to be agile you can start with some good defaults but eventually you have to shift to what's best for your team/company. This book is not revolutionary though. Evolutionary? Yes. They get some of known agile practices from other methods, change their name, size or order and arrange in a way that work for them. For example, they use a 6-week "sprint" but call it a Cycle. In general the names they chose are better names than the ones that existed before.

The more importa
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Chitrak gangrade
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read on project management. While you can argue that most of the fundamentals in this book are ones that you know, but that's true for any management book. In the end, it's all common sense. This book helps you put in the right amount of effort without overenginnering planning. While also puts checks and balances to ensure that things don't get out of hand. It's a framework, and a good one.

Few of my notes while reading this book
- I think the basic fundamental of th
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Daniil Lanovyi
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Basecamp is a unique company and a distinct voice in the sea of copycat tech firms praying to the gods of Agile. Their ways of working are not for everyone, actually to a very few. You can benefit from taking some bits from the book, however small. I found the spirit of the book the most important. For me, it's about questioning dogmas and not doing something just because everyone else is doing it. The book doesn't prescribe, doesn't moralize or even teach. It tells a story of how one small succ ...more
Daniel
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clearly an opinionated perspective on product but some general truisms that apply broadly too.
Thom Behrens
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One reviewer described the book as full of "sane examples" - I think that's a great way to sum up all the literature that has come out of Basecamp. Reminds you to be sane, and in service of humans, not in service of capital or in service of expectations that arose from lack of communication.

If you read one chapter, read "Deciding When to Stop".
Dalan
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Those thoughtful folks at Basecamp do it again.
Shape Up is a guidebook for those involved in shipping software to function smoothly.
A core idea of de-risking projects and work to ensure it is delivered well perpetuates this book; and is concretised by simple tools/concepts one can implement easily.
Truls Skeie
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book about shipping software. There are some great techniques outlined in the book such as

- two ways of explaining new concepts without deciding on UI (fat marker sketch & breadboard)

- An intuitive way of show progress within a team (hill chart)

- the progress of transforming an idea / concept into something to present (shape & picth)
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Oleksiy Kovyrin
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: programming
As usual with the Basecamp crew, a shirt on-point book. This time explaining their opinionated software development process. Even if you don’t think you need to change the way you build your product, it is interesting and useful to see their approach due to some pretty radical ideas they implemented.
Chad
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As with most books from the folks at Basecamp, this book was brilliant! It was refreshing to read a different take on software project management than what I've experienced at work over the years. Definitely a great read.
Steve Fenton
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really interesting insight into how Basecamp do things. It intersects nicely with the increasing move towards DIBBs-style bets, with a neat risk management/investment mechanism built in.
Fernando Salvi
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give it 6 stars.
Mario Tomelin
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
Very very good.
A book clearly destilled from real-world experience in development projects.
Martin
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: management, business
Short and to the point. Lots of valuable insights about processes and getting things done in a smaller org.
Nick
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shape Up is a great read for software teams who are looking to improve their development practices. It’s not capital-A-Agile, nor kanban, nor pair nor agile nor a mashup of methodologies: instead, it’s an organic practice developed at Basecamp over the years to address their specific needs as a software team dedicated to the development, maintenance, support, and growth of SAAS digital products.

I particularly liked how the book addressed both “Truths” in software development, and the apparatus
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Daniele
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it
A few interesting insights into organizing and prioritizing work. I liked the ideas of breadboarding and fat marker sketches to broadly define workflows and give people just enough detail to craft a design they envision. I also liked the idea that when you make a bet, you honor it.

On the other hand, I feel we’re living in strange times: Shape Up advocates breaking up work between teams in 6-week cycles for larger projects and 2-week cycles for smaller items (or 6-week cycles with a number of sma
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Rishat Muhametshin
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
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