Identifying important stuff, for now

Updated: May 4, 2018


When somebody brings up an issue or a concern, try to summarise it in a few words to the person and write that down. Then ask them if this concern is important for now or for later? If it is for later, hang it at a place for later and discuss it later. Hang it at a place for now. If it is for now, make it smaller, reduce to the essence and do it.

It also helps to create a horizontal time line with on the left “NOW” and on the right “LATER”. Hang the concern at right spot so it is visible to everybody what does have a higher priority. There can be only one sticky note on one spot. :-) Near the NOW, priority is super important. More towards LATER, detail priority is not so important. We will see it later, it might not be a problem at all.


A good way to identify important things is to compare relatively. Take two different concerns and ask the audience or the team: “Which one is more important?” or “Which one should we do first?” or “Which one is more valuable?”. Do this with a few items in order to identify the most important one.


Best educated guesses are fine! Ask the team or the audience to select 3 most important concerns. This can be done by voting, like giving everybody 1 or 2 votes. Then, compare the top 3 among each other in terms of value not just costs. When not clear decisions can be made, pick the cheapest one or just one randomly, for now. It doesn’t matter, they are all important and valuable. You can change priority after the next cycle, in 1 hour.


Example:

A team developing a cloud computing service demonstrates their results. Users feedback was they like the service, but find the log in a bit of a hassle. One stakeholder raises the concern if the server’s bandwidth will be good enough once we have many users. So the action here is to write that down and ask that stakeholder and all stakeholders if this is something for now or for later. If he says it is for now, then we simply compare priority to other concerns, possibly raised by himself or others. Just put the sticky notes next to eachother and ask which is more important now. If we agree, it is for now, that’s fine. If not, park it and let’s see whenever we run into the issue.