I am a maker of digital products currently living in Amsterdam.
As a data scientist with originally an interaction design background,
I enjoy working with machine learning data problems that require human input.

Review - Shape Up, Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters

As someone who starts a lot of side-projects and spends his professional life creating and solving tasks, Shape Up: Stop Running around in Circles, a straight-forward manual on execution of work spoke to me.

This book introduces fancy terms like Bets instead of Backlogs and Pitches instead of User stories but those are just names.

Putting these terms aside, the book had a few takeaways for me.

Execute work in longer cycles than short sprints (e.g, 2 weeks). Short sprints break momentum and are costly due to regrouping and replanning. To eliminate runaway projects, a cycle does not get an extension by default after it has ended. If a project was only worth 1 cycle, it would be foolish to spend 2 or 3 times that.

Introduce a cool-down period after each cycle. When running cycles back-to-back, there is no time to breathe and think what’s next. A cool-down can be used to explore new ideas, fix bugs or try out new technical possibilities.

Work is like a hill. Every piece of work has two phases: phase of figuring out what to do, phase of execution. The author makes the analogy of climbing a hill, ‘figuring out what to do’ is uphill, execution is downhill. Plotting tasks on this hill will give an overview how far ahead a project is. When all tasks are still in the ‘figuring out what to do’ phase, the probability of predicting a project’s end-date correctly is extremely low.