5 - How to prioritize and ensure tactical execution?

Work backward from goals, align on prioritization frameworks to support decision making, and set clear boundaries based on resourcing realities.

Why It’s Important

Products, and product teams, may have a clear strategy but can still fail due to various factors such as unstructured execution or lack of focus on the highest-value opportunities. Prioritization ensures the team is always executing on the work of the highest importance.

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How to Use This Principle

Share your prioritization framework so stakeholders understand the criteria on which decisions are made. Engage in prioritization as a team through a process that reinforces objectivity. State and question assumptions. Quantify the potential impact and feasibility, communicate tradeoffs, and prioritize based on return on investment. 

Real-life application by Sparsh Agarwal, Director of Product at Earnin 

As a PM, embrace a mindset of dynamic prioritization based on a shared understanding of goals and resourcing realities. Your organization is dynamic and your priorities need to reflect this. 

I've worked in companies that have spent a lot of time thinking about carefully designed, deliberate strategies on how they're going to play in the market and how they're going to succeed. But even the best-written deliberate strategies need to be flexible and be able to respond to changing circumstances. COVID is a perfect example of that. The companies that have succeeded in the COVID pandemic are the ones that have processes in place to effectively change their prioritization and to be able to respond to the changing needs of the market in the most effective way possible. Because ultimately, that's what prioritization is: allocation of scarce resources of the company in the most effective way possible.

To put this into action, get a shared understanding across your organization of what users want and what the goals of an organization are. Very often different teams in a company have different goals. So making sure that everybody has the same baseline understanding is really important as a first step.

Secondly, pick a prioritization framework. If you Google this, you will see several acronyms like RICE and MOSCOW, all of them basically doing the same thing, which is a trade off between the costs and the benefits of picking an initiative. It's really important to call out these trade offs, because prioritization is all about picking certain initiatives over others. So calling out those trade offs can really help get alignment within the organization. My tip here is to pick one framework that works for your unique context and to keep it simple—and then ensure the entire organization is aligned behind that particular framework for prioritization. 
And then finally, we really need to measure our progress towards the initiatives that we've prioritized, make sure that the assumptions that we made are actually true or—or not. And then use that information to continuously evaluate whether our prioritization still continues to make sense.

How to handle a product/business crisis?

Start by understanding the problem, bring the team together to deliver a resolution, do a retrospective to avoid the crisis again.

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Principle Six - Product Manifesto

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