A Practical Approach to Product Development

24 Mar 2020

In a recent email dialog, a colleague of mine inadvertently introduced me to a free online book from Ryan Singer at Basecamp, titled Shape Up.

The introduction serendipitously occurred through a link inside one of the chapters that happened to be espousing the benefits of a concept called shaping. As I started perusing the table of contents and glancing through additional chapters, I became increasingly interested in some of the ideas shared by the author. This book is a welcome departure from the deluge of public blogposts that tend to wax endlessly on product development approaches that one could argue border too much on ideology or theory.

Shape Up, in contrast, delves into specifics, covering the full spectrum of development from idea to delivery. A few concepts that piqued my curiosity include:

  • The process of shaping ideas to create clarity and boundedness.
  • The techniques for building effective pitches from ideas that have been appropriately shaped.
  • The concept of an appetite that provides a means of constraining the amount of time that should be invested in an idea.
  • The use of a hill metaphor as a different way of tracking doneness of work rather than traditional methods of estimation.

Obviously, Basecamp may be far from representative of your business or company culture, but nonetheless, understanding how others develop products may stimulate a bit of creative thought in rethinking your current processes.