Chris Spiek and Ryan Singer on Shape Up

September 28, 2022 • #

Reading Ryan Singer’s Shape Up a few years ago was formative (or re-formative, or something) in my thinking on how product development can and should work. After that it was a rabbit hole on jobs-to-be-done, Bob Moesta’s Demand-Side Sales, demand thinking, and more.

Since he wrote the book in 2019, he talks about 2 new concepts that extend Shape Up a little further: the role of the “technical shaper” and the stage of “framing” that happens prior to shaping.

Framing is a particularly useful device to add meat onto the bone of working through defining the problem you’re trying to solve. Shaping as the first step doesn’t leave enough space for the team to really articulate the dimensions of the problem it’s attempting to solve. Shaping is looking for the contours of a particular solution, setting the desired appetite for a solution (“we’re okay spending 6 weeks worth of time on this problem”), and laying out the boundaries around the scope for the team to work within.

I know in our team, the worst project execution happens when the problem is poorly-defined before we get started, or when we don’t get down into enough specificity to set proper scopes. I love these additions to the framework.