Wednesday, May 30, 2018

10 things to help you suck less in prioritisation


Improvements in how things are being done don't help that much if you are doing the wrong things.

Focusing on cutting down the deployment/production pipeline, using the latest and greatest languages and tools, exploratory testing, mob programming, etc will surely be a boost to efficiency. But efficiency is not key if you are doing the wrong things.

And quite often we are.

And a big reason for that is, that we suck at prioritisation. We suck at it because we:
- spend too little time on it: "But we could save minutes of talking by hours of coding!"
- do it too rarely: "Welcome to our annual roadmap revision meeting."
- try to have specific people/roles be responsible for it: "Ask the PO..."
- do not think about different dimensions enough: "But the customer needs it!"

But mainly we suck at it because it is so hard.

Here tho is list of 10 things I think might help.

1. Don't keep a big backlog. Focus on the things being done now, and on the few things to do next. Forget the rest.
2. Do not rank things with labels, instead just rank them in an order. We all have seen too many priority1 projects..
3. It's ok and good to have visions and high level plans for longer times. But don't put them on a "roadmap" and then forcefully execute that.
4. Avoid long and seldom happening prioritisation meetings. Instead prioritise often and ad-hoc.
5. The value is in the idea, not in who presents the idea. Let the ideas compete, not the people.
6. Do not only consider the cost to build, but also the cost of delay (how much do we lose or not gain while this is not done, opportunity cost (what else could we be doing instead of this), cost to maintain, etc
7. Do not only consider the value to customer but also team motivation & wellbeing, code and system infrastructure simplicity, brand, support, relationships between stakeholders, etc
8. Involve everyone to prioritisation. It's hard. It's messy. It's important.
9. Try to get everyone to understand why we decide what we decide. Not everyone needs to agree, but understanding is very important.
10. Look back at the good&bad decisions. What helped you to select the right thing back then? Why the hell did we end up doing that?

Why ten? It sounds nice, fits into a board made of stone, and because this post was very late already due to some bad prioritisation.

I'll try to do better next week..

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