Basecamp is well known for its approach to product development – after starting out as an agency (37 Signals), it realised that the tools it used to manage its own projects would have value for others. What followed was a bootstrapped journey to creating an entire suite of products, using Basecamp’s own approach on how to work well together. Over the years, the company has publicly documented many of its processes. In its newest (free!) publication Shape Up – Stop Running In Circles and Ship Work That Matters, Head of Strategy Ryan Singer shares an approach that challenges most of the orthodoxy around Agile (as a framework) but retains all of the spirit of agile (as a philosophy). In this episode, he talks with Lily and Randy about Basecamp’s approach, why it works for them, and the thinking behind it.
Quote of the Episode
A lot of people talk about planning or deciding what to do and, very often, this is too much expressed in the language of certainty. What we’re doing here is expressing everything in the language of risk. So when we bet on a project, we’re acknowledging the fact that we don’t actually know what’s going to happen, if it’s going to go well, if we’re going to get in trouble with it. So we are being very deliberate in what we bet on and don’t bet on and whether the odds are in our favour for making a particular bet or a feature idea.
The way that we bet is six weeks at a time. So we’re not working in little two-week sprints, because two weeks isn’t long enough to get anything done.
Listen if you’d like to learn more about
- Betting and shaping
- Product teams of two to three people
Links mentioned in this episode
- Follow Ryan on Twitter and LinkedIn and on his blog
- Free online version of Ryan’s book ‘Shape Up – Stop Running In Circles and Ship Work That Matters‘
The Product Experience is hosted by Lily Smith and Randy Silver.
Lily enjoys working as a consultant product manager with early-stage and growing startups and as a mentor to other product managers. Lily has spent 13 years in the tech industry working mainly with startups in the SaaS and mobile space. She has worked on a diverse range of products – leading the product teams through discovery, prototyping, testing and delivery. Lily also founded ProductTank in Bristol, the Product Managers’ meetup with regular events and talks on Product now with 800+ members and growing. Now the Product Director at Symec, Lily also runs ProductCamp in Bristol and Bath.
A recovering music journalist and editor, Randy has been working as an interactive producer and product manager across the US and UK for nearly 20 years. After launching Amazon’s music stores in the US and UK, Randy has worked with museums and arts groups, online education, media and entertainment, retail and financial services. He’s held Head of Product roles at HSBC and Sainsbury’s, where he also directed their 100+-person product community. Now a trainer, Discovery and Leadership consultant, he’s spoken at Mind the Product Engage (Hamburg and Manchester), the Business of Software, Turing Festival, a number of ProductTanks (London, Zurich, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, and Brighton… so far!) and at conferences across the US and Europe.
Our theme music is from Hamburg-based Pau, featuring ProductTank Hamburg’s own Arne Kittler on bass. Listen to more on their Facebook page
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