### Appetite - Big Batch (6 Weeks) - Small Batch (1 Week) ### Problem We're having a hard time acting and [[Product Strategy|thinking strategically about our products]]. Our engineering and design teams are feeling like they aren't accomplishing anything with an endless list of backlog items, epics never being completed, and assigned tasks only being a general reflection of the real work that needs to be done. The sum of the backlog doesn't seem to [[Alignment|align]] with the problems we actually want to solve. ### Solution We're going to start using Shape Up instead of Scrum or Kanban. The core engineering and design team is going to work in 6 week cycles. Each cycle the core team will be broken up into 1-3 person project teams. Each project team will be assigned a single big batch project or a few small batch projects to complete within the cycle. They will be [[Fixed Time Variable Scope]] projects that the leadership team already bet on. Product managers will shape pitches for those projects out-of-cycle. Shipping something meaningful every 6 weeks is hard work - after each cycle the core team will have a 2 week [[Cooldown]] period where they can work on whatever they want while the next batch of projects is prepared. The main elements of this solution are as follows. #### Shaping Shaped work, in the form of a pitch, will define a specific problem the team is going to solve within a given [[Appetite]]. Its purpose is to define the "what" and leave the "how" up to the team. It will provide the general solution, boundaries, and guard rails to help the team succeed. It's a thoughtful, well-written document that explores many facets of the problem and solution space and enables autonomy and accountability for the entire team. #### Betting During the cooldown period the leadership team will get together to discuss pitches brought to the betting table. This won't be the first time they're seeing the pitches and it's not a time to be asking for changes. Only shaped work is considered at the betting table. The leadership team makes their bets on which pitches to turn into projects for the upcoming cycle, assigns project teams, and hands over responsibility to the team to begin a cycle. #### Building Each project team working in-cycle is afford a full 6 weeks of uninterrupted time to do [[Deep Work]]. They'll show progress by tracking their [[Discovered Work]] in scopes. They'll [[Do The Hard Stuff First]] to ensure they can confidently make well-informed [[Trade Offs]] and not create [[Tech Debt]]. They'll ship a finished solution at the end of the cycle and move on. The work won't spill over into cooldown and anything that wasn't completed is archived with the project to ensure a clean slate for next cycle. ![[Paper.Long_Pressed.1.png]] ### Must Haves [[Appetite]] - we are betting on a specific amount of time to solve a problem in order to limit our losses if our bet does not pay off. Conservationism - Leave the code base and the design system better than you found it, but also remember that you'll have a cooldown period to spend extra time cleaning things up if you'd like. ### Nice To Haves Breadboards - A text-based sketch within the pitch of the key places, connections, components, information, and [[Affordances and Signifiers|affordances]] needed to solve the problem. Leaves plenty of room for the engineers to do their jobs as [[Knowledge Workers]]. Fat Marker Sketches - An image-based sketch within the pitch, drawn using broad strokes to enhance team understanding of a visual concept when the arrangement of elements and [[Affordances and Signifiers|affordances]] on screen is a fundamental part of the problem being solved. Leaves plenty of room for designers to do their jobs as [[Knowledge Workers]]. Patterns - A hierarchy of underlying invariant relationships between the people, places, and things that are fundamental to the overarching solution. [[Basecamp]] - The team over at Basecamp has built a product specifically around this pattern. It's possible to implement Shape Up using a number of other tools but we really would like to use Basecamp for their [[Hill Charts]], which helps us with [[Accountability]] and Autonomy. They also make breaking off into project teams and archiving past projects really simple, so we're not bogged down what we were doing last cycle. 6 Week Cycles - We prefer to run 6 week cycles with a 2 week cooldown period but we're also willing to try 4 week cycles with a 1 week cooldown period if there's a business reason for doing so. Big and Small Batch - Let's try to keep Appetite for projects to just Big and Small Batch. A big batch project has an appetite of the whole cycle, whereas a small batch project has an appetite of 1 week. ### Rabbit Holes Grab Bags - We won't do redesigns, refactors, or version 2.0s. Projects won't be mini backlogs of unrelated tasks. We'll solve problems instead. Bringing incomplete pitches to the betting table and discussing changes that need to be made should be avoided. Product managers need to be afforded the time and priority to shape pitches out-of-cycle and leadership teams should be appraised of the progress and context as needed to ensure efficient, effective betting. ### No Gos Backlogs - The teams don't need to be concerned with potential future tasks unrelated to the current project. If an idea or problem is important enough, then it will come back in the form of a pitch and get bet on. Individuals can keep their own lists. Estimation - Sure we'd like to know how long people think something is going to take generally, but that's imaginary and we won't really know until the team digs in. Instead, we give the team a fixed time budget to solve a problem and the autonomy to do so flexibly through the use of [[Fixed Time Variable Scope]] projects. There are very few if any circumstances under which we should let the cycle spill over into cooldown. Something in production must be code red in order for this to happen. Not bugs, not customer requests, just code red. [[Imagined Tasks]] - Tasks that we think we need to do, before a project team has started solving the problem, don't need to cloud our judgment and bloat our lists. Instead we opt for [[Discovered Work]]. ### Further Reading - [Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work That Matters](https://basecamp.com/shapeup) ### Resources - [Discourse Forum](https://discourse.learnshapeup.com) ### Categories #engineering #design #teams #product #progress #scrum #kanban #cycles #projects #pitches #autonomy #scope ![[✉️ Subscribe For Updates#^subscribe]]