Prioritizing for Feedback

There are a lot of prioritization techniques that exist, and it’s worth getting comfortable with a handful of them. Each one has strengths and weaknesses, so having a few you can use rounds out your ability to prioritize.

One of my “Superpowers,” so to speak, is my ability to scope things. More specifically, I’m very good at simplifying and eliminating scope. Over the past year or two, I’ve cut at least two to four years of scope out of products.

Unfortunately, one of the things about this ability is that it is intuitive for me, which means it’s hard for me to describe. However, there is one angle to how I scope and prioritize that I think I can share.

I often scope and prioritize to encourage feedback.

Once I scope in the absolute essentials for solving a user’s problem, I deprioritize everything else. When I’m deprioritizing things, one of the questions in my head goes like this:

“If I don’t build this, who will refuse to use this product?”

The answer, typically, is that there aren’t enough customers that need that feature to warrant prioritizing it.

Once that item is in the product, it will never leave. I’d rather find out we’re missing something than get feedback on a feature they don’t use.

The result of this is that the product scopes that I create are super thin, without complication, and a clear set of ideas that we think are good that we listen for as we show our early work to our customers.

We save a ton of time not building things that genuinely are not essential, and when we hear feedback about one of those deprioritized items, we can re-prioritize.

In the past few products, I’ve found that 80% of the things I deprioritize stay deprioritized. A few always come back into focus, but they do because of direct customer feedback. That means that when we re-prioritize, we know very clearly what we need to do compared to what we initially thought.

So, next time you’re scoping a product, leave all the unessential stuff out, but prime yourself to hear feedback to prioritize just those few items that you need.