There are, of course, several factors that go into driving success. Boiling it down to one single factor may be audacious. However, the one element that stands out the most to me is prioritization!
Let me take you back to a pivotal moment in my career – the launch of a one-click checkout feature at eBay. The project was high-profile, expectations were soaring, and board-level visibility added to the pressure. However, nearing the launch date, complexities emerged, putting the entire project at risk. When discussing this with our leader, a crucial question arose: What was the impact of different use cases?
To our surprise, the at-risk use case constituted less than 20% of the overall impact. This realization prompted a shift in focus towards the primary use case, securing the majority of the initiative’s upside. It was a paradigm shift for someone overly committed to delivering everything.
What is Our Role as Leaders to Drive Teams to Success?
As leaders – you are constantly faced with limited resources. No matter the organization’s size, the asks (and aspirations) are always higher than your capacity. I believe that as leaders we add significant value by helping teams prioritize. Whether you speak at the macro or micro level, there are always 80/20s you can look for. This clarity in your strategy for success allows teams to maximize impact without succumbing to the chaos of competing demands.
Continue to Test and Tweak Your Product
Effective prioritization hinges on understanding the true scope of delivering something. It is essential to account for not just the core tasks but also all the peripheral work required to deliver something with quality and the iteration required post-delivery. These can often be as expensive as the core tasks!
Furthermore, consider testing hypotheses inexpensively. Rather than building a complete feature, explore the possibility of dry testing to obtain early insights into user engagement. If you can eliminate some paths with dry-testing – that’s the most efficient way to narrow the scope!
Why is Leadership Essential for Prioritization?
Prioritization requires leadership. It requires courage to push back on priorities. We need to build trust with peers to drive alignment. It takes patience as a leader to focus on the “critical few” priorities and drive meaningful progress. It needs you to drive a culture of accountability, which builds trust and allows you to prioritize more effectively in the future.
Prioritization demands leadership: the courage to push back on priorities, building trust with peers for alignment, patience to focus on the “critical few” priorities, and fostering a culture of accountability that facilitates more effective prioritization in the future.
I am sure that this is familiar to you. And hopefully, it reinforces what you already realize is important!
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By Bhushan Heda