Shape Up

This methodology was created by the product development team in Basecamp. Sometimes the "traditional" agile methodologies are hard to implement and become too dogmatic, not considering the company needs but only the canonical usage. Shape Up's focus on delivery made it spread through many other companies, specially in the product development market.

Shape Up is for product development teams who struggle to ship. Full of eye-opening insights, Shape Up will help you break free of "best practices" that aren't working, think deeper about the right problems, and start shipping meaningful projects.

This is just a basic overview, because the methodology is quite simple and well explained in the book.

The Shape Up book is available at, and it's free. You can even read it in a web version. It's a very short and interesting text full of real life examples. Recommended!


We were struggling with some issues in our delivery flow. [List of issues].



Our time will be structured in 6 weeks cycles, and a cool down of 2 weeks between cycles. If the team spends his time building projects, those 2 weeks of cool down are giving the team some time to manage other stuff that does not belong to complex projects.

Six weeks is long enough to build something meaningful start-to-finish and short enough that everyone can feel the deadline looming from the start, so they use the time wisely

In Shape Up, two works are done in parallel during the cycles. One team does the shaping work and another the building work


A small senior group works in parallel to the cycle teams. They define the key elements of a solution before we consider a project ready to bet on. Projects are defined at the right level of abstraction: concrete enough that the teams know what to do, yet abstract enough that they have room to work out the interesting details themselves.

The product people creates pitches. A pitch is a project proposal to explain a problem and how to solve it. The shape team discusses the details and shapes the problem and the solution until it's well defined, the scope is reduced to the basics and the rabbit holes are addressed.

At the end of the cycle, the shape team meets to decide on with projects to bet for the next cycle.

On this team we have:


we give full responsibility to a small integrated team of designers and programmers. They define their own tasks, make adjustments to the scope, and work together to build vertical slices of the product one at a time. This is completely different from other methodologies, where managers chop up the work and programmers act like ticket-takers

During the 6 weeks cycle the product and the development people work together as a unique team, so they can solve unexpected problems and focus on the delivery of a fully functional piece of product that adds as much value as possible.