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

by Ryan Singer

Posted by Anton Katunin on 1 August 2019
Tags: books, 4 stars

It is available online.

Shortly after I finished Inspired book Shape Up book came to my radar. After reading this book the whole puzzle got together. The pieces:

  • 37 signals is a software company that develops Basecamp
  • Basecamp is a project management and communication tool
  • Basecamp is used by 37 signals to develop Basecamp

This book serves well as a guide on how to use Basecamp. The closer your process is to this book, the more useful Basecamp will be for you.

It’s important to note that Basecamp is a cash-cow. The quality of the development process is not necessary affects its success. Read the book with a grain of salt.

Their process is also Dual Track. The first stage is exploration and the second is development. However unlike in Inspired, it’s not clear if they ever do user testing. The book is very practical and it’s easy to see that it evolved over time.

I find Shape Up process very reactive as they discourage having backlog. I agree with the principle that important ideas will always come back, so you don’t need to record them. However they went to the extreme to reinvent the road map every 2 months. Basecamp doesn’t feel like a product but a playground for its founders.

I think the book will gain popularity because it’s short and free. It would serve as a good introduction to dual track processes. I will recommended it on this basis to others.