Heads up! This page uses features your browser doesn't support. Try a modern browser like Firefox or Chrome for the best experience.

Chapter 4:


Next: Product Histories

Like most other organizations in the world, Basecamp has over time developed a vocabulary specific to our work and company. It’s easy to overdo and it’s even easier to do cringeworthily. We don’t want to have a culture of Basecamperinos CRUSHING IT to get to the NEXT LEVEL with some super-duper PEAK PERFORMANCE, BRUH. The vast majority of the time, we can use the vocabulary shared with the rest of the English-speaking world, and we’ll be better off. On the other hand…


When establishing the tasks under a project, there are must-haves and maybes. Chowder is a shorthand we use to refer to the maybes.


Most problems can be solved in a thousand different ways. One way might take 100 hours, another might take 10. Judo is the art of problem restatement. Turning that massive, scary 3-month looking problem into one that can be done in 3 weeks instead. It’s often used when we get frustrated trying to solve something hard and we aren’t making sufficient progress: “Let’s figure out a way to judo this!”.


“Please do investigate”. Seen most often on to-do lists at Basecamp to indicate uncertainty. It helps everyone on the project understand that we’re going to look into it but it may or may not be feasible, practical, or possible.

Scope Hammering

It’s a rare case when our initial aspirations for a feature don’t meet the boundaries of our cycle budgets. When that happens, our go-to tool for shipping is scope hammering. This basically just means shrinking the scope, removing features or configuration or fidelity, until the work is doable within the time left. It’s the opposite tactic to working longer days or weekends or to postpone the project into another cycle. Almost every project can be scope hammered, especially if you invite someone in to assist with the analysis who isn’t afraid to kill other people’s darlings. You’ll get better at doing that yourself after a few rounds too.

We don’t just make Basecamp, we run our entire business on it too. It puts all our project communication, task management, and documentation in one place where everyone can work together seamlessly.