Shape Up Forum

Anyone tried Shaping Up across multiple products?

Our company is different from Basecamp in two significant ways that (I think) should impact the way we employ Shape Up. I’m curious if anyone else has navigated the following:

  • Assigning Shapers to focus on a specific product (or area of a product)
  • Bridging the UX design gap between product strategy and execution

We are a venture-backed company and plan to multiply our efforts this year, meaning that one or two people pitching projects could easily become a bottle neck. We are currently nowhere close to having the kind of “portfolio of ideas” basecamp has on hand during each betting cycle.

Most of the Pitches I’ve seen (from basecamp or anywhere) don’t really incorporate any user research. While I definitely think that a lot of user research is theater, I’ve also participated in lots of research over the years that has been incredibly helpful and insightful.

Anyone have experience incorporating a design research practice into the Shape Up Model? I’m thinking of the kind of discovery process that is less about innovation and more about usability.


Hi Matt, I think our situation is comparable. We’re also venture backed, but more importantly have two core products (each with their own product manager) and regularly do involve usability and value testing practices in the discovery work, i.e. on the Shaping track.

Us product managers are the main ones responsible to shape work that can be bet on for each cycle. I usually have 3-5 ideas that I’m shaping simultaneously. Those range from big, strategic projects with high stakes to smaller, less risky ideas. I’ve felt that the 6 weeks cycles, which we do, afford enough time for this kind of discovery work.

As to your question on design research practices: A couple of times, I’ve worked with a designer to actually shape an idea and go beyond fat marker sketches or breadboards to produce actual high-fidelity prototypes w/ Figma. These prototypes could then be used to run value tests and usability tests with customers. Oftentimes, we’d feel like we were able to either confirm an initial hunch or learn that we need to refine an idea.

Sometimes, we later broke the designs down a level of fidelity again (to sketches or wireframes) for the cycle team, or included the designer in the build phase and used the hi-fi designs as a starting point to iterate on.

In addition to such user tests with prototypes, I’ve also run two design studio workshops to include a customer success team in coming up with starting points for solutions to complex problems for which they were the domain experts.

Again, the 6 week cycles always seemed to allow enough time for shaping a handful of projects at once – some of which require more extensive research of various kinds, and some of which require less or no research because you just know what to do.

Hope this helps, looking forward to hearing other peoples experience with this!

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This was super interesting. Thanks for sharing @david.

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