“oh, allow me to entertain a challenging idea for a moment just to spin it around and see it from another side.”

                   — *David Heinemeier-Hanssen, co-founder of 37 Signals, on the (Re)Work Podcast episode [“**TypeScript Drama and Open Source Opinions”**](<https://37signals.com/podcast/typescript-drama-and-open-source-opinions/>)*

I love David’s image of spinning ideas around to see them from another side, and for me, spinning ideas from outside of theater generates the most glee. (I was going to say it gives me the most pleasure, but glee is really the right word. In my head, I’m sometimes squealing with delight as ideas appear. But that’s just me.)

Today, I want to stay with the 37 Signals book *Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters* by Ryan Singer, which I discussed yesterday in terms of the idea of appetite and its impact on creating a production budget. As I mentioned in passing, part of the “shape up” methodology is that it runs on a 6-week cycle followed by a 2-week “cool down period.”

As I spun that idea around, I started thinking about how most theaters schedule productions.

The Norm

The usual way that theaters (or university theater departments) schedule as season is pretty straightforward:

  1. There are a certain number of “slots” in a season with a set number of performances for each slot.
  2. Each production is rehearsed over a set number of weeks.
  3. Each production runs for a pre-determined number of performances.
  4. When you figure out which plays go in each slot and in what order they will be performed, you:
    1. write up a press release announcing the season, and
    2. create a brochure that can be used to sell season tickets in advance.

Rinse and repeat.

Sound familiar?

Spinning the 6-week structure

A couple foundational ideas at 37 Signals:

  1. There are “small batch” and “large batch” projects. Large batch projects are those in which the appetite is that the entire six weeks will be given to finishing it; small batch projects are projects in which the is for a shorter time frame, say, two weeks or three weeks. Whatever. So one team might be assigned a large batch project, and another team might get two 3-week small batch projects.
  2. You don’t plan beyond the 6-week cycle. In other words, they’re not “an thenning” — “the first six weeks we’ll do X, and then the next 6 weeks we’ll do Y, and after that…” Why not plan out the entire year? Well, first, because it’s sort of boring, but more importantly, it allows the company to respond quickly to new circumstances, new ideas, new developments. It makes the company more nimble.