Greetings, phenomenal leaders!
Today, we are going to explore the crucial aspect of managing the work as a manager within Rule 2 of our leadership framework: “It’s not about you, it’s about OTHERS!” In particular, we will delve into the first point of the 6 M Framework’s third “M”: Setting Priorities. Join me as we uncover more detail about prioritization, its significance in leadership, different prioritization frameworks, and how to prioritize effectively.

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF PRIORITIZATION

As leaders, our time and resources are finite, and the demands on our attention are endless. In any dynamic and fast-paced environment, especially in product development, prioritization becomes paramount. Effective prioritization enables us to focus our efforts on the most critical tasks and initiatives, maximize productivity, and drive results that align with our organizational goals and objectives. If everything is a priority, then NOTHING is a priority and it is as much about saying no to something, as it is saying yes.

DIFFERENT PRIORITIZATION FRAMEWORKS

There are a large number of prioritization frameworks that leaders can leverage to make informed decisions about where to allocate their time and resources. Some are more qualitative, some are more quantitative. Some you need users to survey, to be able to make use of, some are fast and easy decisions by category. Some are great to use with external stakeholders as they don’t take much time to explain, or learn and can enable fast decision making. Other frameworks are really useful to use to gather feedback directly from users to let you know what they think the priorities should be. Some frameworks are better to use in an earlier lifecycle phase such as the growth phase, while others are better to use in a mature phase. Always consider what lifecycle phase you are in, who your audience is and what your objective is, before choosing a prioritisation method. Some popular frameworks include:
  1. Eisenhower Matrix: This matrix categorizes tasks based on their urgency and importance, helping leaders distinguish between what is urgent and what is truly important. Really useful at any point of a life cycle and great to use to prioritize your own personal list of to do’s
  2. MoSCoW Method: This method categorizes tasks into Must-haves, Should-haves, Could-haves, and Won’t-haves, allowing leaders to prioritize tasks based on their relative importance and impact on desired outcomes. I love using this tool with stakeholders, it is easy to explain and allows for fast decision making that is useful when you are stretched for time.
  3. ABC Method: This method categorizes tasks into A, B, and C categories based on their priority, with A tasks being the most critical and C tasks being the least important. Similar approach to Eisenhower, useful for your own to do lists and simple to understand.
  4. Kano Method: This method takes a bit of learning and analysing but a phenomenal tool to use in the late growth to mature phases where you have many users you can survey. Through the survey results analysis, you will get a clear indication of what features they think are delighters and must haves. I love this tool.
  5. User Story Mapping: Another favourite tool. This one is so multifaceted and can be used at any phase of the life cycle. This is a team effort where you can write user stories together, identify dependencies and then think through prioritisations and phases for release.

HOW TO PRIORITIZE EFFECTIVELY

To prioritize effectively, you need to have a clear and clarified vision and strategy.  If you are missing your strategic goals, you will not be able to prioritise well at all, it is an interrelated cascade and one impacts & informs the others. To prioritise, leaders can follow these steps:
  1. Identify Goals and Objectives: Clarify your organizational goals and strategic objectives to ensure that your prioritization efforts align with the overarching vision and of your organization or product.
  2. Assess, WHO your audience is: This is often a missing analysis and I think it is critical to factor in, you don’t want to use an overly complex prioritisation framework with the wrong audience as you will then have to spend time teaching it to them. Keep it simple when needed.
  3. Assess Urgency and Importance: Evaluate tasks and initiatives based on their urgency and importance using frameworks like the Eisenhower Matrix, the MoSCoW Method, a 2*2 matrix or a mash up of two prioritisation frameworks, if everything is ending up in the same bucket. If everything is a priority then nothing is a priority, so keep refining.
  4. Consider Impact and Resources: Assess the potential impact and resource requirements of each task or initiative to determine its priority relative to other competing priorities. Practice Ruthless prioritisation as it is as much about saying no as it is saying yes.
  5. Delegate and Collaborate: Delegate tasks that can be completed by others and collaborate with team members to leverage their expertise and resources. As a leader, look to delegate tasks to people, aligned to their strengths and passions, Utilise personality assessments that help you clarify individuals strengths, such as the Via Strengths Assessment or the Enneagram and then work to partner people based on those strengths. For instance partner a big picture thinker with someone who loves the details; they will deliver amazing results when you partner them on strengths!
  6. Review and Adjust: Regularly review and adjust your priorities based on changing circumstances, new information, and evolving organizational needs. You don’t know what you don’t know and as you learn more, you will have to prioritise, plus things will come out of nowhere that will be more urgent, so you need to allow for those things too. Build a buffer and always prioritise against your strategic goals
The thing with prioritisation, is it is not a once and done effort, you will continually be prioritising. You will prioritise your strategic goals, you will prioritise your roadmaps & plans, you will prioritise your backlog, your list of things to do and you will prioritise them multiple times, especially as things change.

THE LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE: WHY PRIORITIZATION MATTERS

Effective prioritization is not just about managing tasks; it’s about leading with intention and purpose. It’s about managing the work. Prioritization allows leaders to focus their efforts on what truly matters, empower their teams to achieve their full potential, and drive organizational success. By prioritizing effectively, leaders can navigate complexity, overcome challenges, and seize opportunities to make a meaningful impact in their organizations and beyond. Your team can’t do everything so choose wisely by leaning into your strategic goals and a well chosen prioritisation framework.

PARTING THOUGHTS: LEAD WITH PURPOSE AND INTENTION

As we conclude our exploration of prioritization in leadership let us remember that effective leadership begins with your strategic goals and prioritization. By mastering the art of setting priorities, leaders can create clarity, focus, and momentum that propel their teams toward success. So embrace the power of prioritization, learn a number of different prioritisation tools, lead with purpose and intention, and unlock the full potential of your organizations and ourselves by choosing what to do and what not to do!
Wishing you a week filled with effective prioritization and transformative leadership moments!