Whenever I talk to teams doing Shape Up, I ask them what's not working. Shaping, pitching, and longer cycles aren't too hard to adopt. But when it comes to the build phase, growing teams sometimes run into challenges:
When teams describe these problems, I always ask:
What was your process at handoff? What steps did the team use to interpret the pitch, break down the work, and set a plan of action?
I ask that because handoff is a critical moment. It's where the work gets broken down, where the purpose of the pitch is carried over or lost, where technical surprises come to the surface or remain hidden (until it's too late).
Most teams don't have a standard process for handoff. Whether it goes smoothly or not depends entirely on the experience level of the programmer. Senior programmers consider the whole project, break it apart, target the unknowns, and deliver slice by slice. Junior programmers, on the other hand, tend to dive straight into the code, start with whatever looks easiest, and get bitten by unknowns later on. Senior programmers try to mentor the junior ones, but they struggle to explain what they do. It all happens intuitively in their heads.
To solve this, I've prototyped and tested a new method for handoff that makes what experienced programmers do in their heads visible and teachable to others.
Here's how the method works:
Companies who tested the method reported catching issues in the first day that normally wouldn't have come up until weeks later in the project. Here's a quote from a junior programmer who went through the exercise:
[Before doing this] I understood the pitch, but I couldn't really speak to what should be worked on first ... what goes together ... what might we be able to be cut if we're running out of time. ... I haven't written any code yet, and my feelings have drastically changed about whether I can deliver this well within the timeframe and deliver everything that's wanted.
In this workshop, you'll learn how to do the handoff exercise, how to teach it to your programmers, and how to structure the handoff meeting to build confidence in your team.
We'll also look forward and backward from the moment of handoff to understand how to better format pitches, deal with discovered work, and keep tasks and scopes alive as the work changes.
Senior technical and product people. Those working in Shape Up cycles will get the best results.
< 20 people
November 22 and 23, 2021
October 27, 2021
November 1, 2021
$500/person, $900/two people
To participate, please use the button below to apply before October 27, 2021.
Questions? Write Ryan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.