With Shape Up, the process of “shaping” new product takes investment to really understand and communicate an idea. But in the process, this precedes the “pitch”, the step where the team reviews a shaped concept and buys into working on it:
According to the book, shapers prepare pitches, pitches go to the betting table, and then the business decides at the last moment which pitches to “bet on.” Teams who follow this to the letter encounter a problem: how do you justify spending the time to shape something when you don’t know if the business will value it?
This easily leads to a situation where shaping is … underdone. Pitches become sales pitches to convince the business to spend time — to bet on — this or that problem or feature request. Those pitches focus on making the case to work on something, and they lack the rigor that goes into shaping a viable technical solution.
The pitch shouldn’t be a sales pitch. At that stage, the business shouldn’t need convincing anymore that a problem is worth sovling; the pitch is to showcase a proposed solution to the problem. So Ryan recently added a stage he calls “framing” to convey the work prior to shaping, where we can communicate the value to the business and the nature of the problem to be solved:
To solve this, I’ve coached teams to introduce a new step before Shaping that we call Framing. Framing is all about the problem and the business value. It’s the work we do to challenge a problem, to narrow it down, and to find out if the business has interest and urgency to solve it.
The framing session is where a feature request or complaint gets evaluated to judge what it really means, who’s really affected, and whether now is the time to try and shape a solution.