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Chapter 4:


Next: Product Histories

37signals has over time developed a vocabulary specific to our work and company.


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 in 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.