Shape Up - writing the pitch

  1. Shape Up notes - introduction
  2. Shape Up - The shaping process
  3. Shape Up - writing the pitch (You’re here)

Writing the pitch is still part of shaping.

Part 1 of the book is Shaping. Part 2 is Betting. Part 3 is Building.

Just thought I’d lay out the map before we continue.

Links to some actual Basecamp pitches here, and here.

A pitch has 5 ingredients: Problem, Appetite, Solution, Rabbit holes, & No-gos.

1. Problems

It sounds like an obvious point but it’s surprising how often teams, our own included, jump to a solution with the assumption that it’s obvious why it’s a good idea to build this thing.

When defining a problem, it’s also key to identify who’s facing the problem. This is a part of the strategy side of shaping.

We could spend six weeks on an ingenious solution that only benefits a small percentage of customers known to have low retention.

2. Appetite

The amount of time you’ll be giving to a bet. With Basecamp, it’s 6 weeks, or small batch project, two weeks (or however the teams decide to split their small batch projects)

3. Solution

A problem without a solution is unshaped work.

The initial theme of providing the right level of abstraction still holds true at this point. This is where you take the breadboard designs, & fat marker sketches, and make them a bit more presentable for the pitch.

4. Rabbit Holes

Sometimes addressing a rabbit hole just requires a few lines of text.

5. No Gos

Is there anything we’re not doing?


Another thing worth mention, communication is asynchronous by default, and synchronous when need be.

That means the first step for presenting a pitch is posting the write-up with all the ingredients above somewhere that stakeholders can read it on their own time.