The other day I glanced across at a glass wall in the office, on the other side of the wall was a triangular arrangement of post-it notes, and my brain immediately fired a thought into my consciousness.
What a good idea to arrange a priority list as a pyramid.
When I eventually walked around to see what it was all about, I found that it wasn’t a priority list at all, but the thought had stuck.
I have written about priority a little before, in our book From The Factory Floor, but I wasn’t quite happy that the explanation got the message across as clearly as I would have liked.
I argued that you should not assign items to tiered priority categories such as P1, P2, P3 or Must-Have, Should-Have, Could-Have, Wont-Have. Because…
a) When you have 100 P1s you have no priority
b) Deciding which side of the dividing line something falls becomes a hard decision when that equates to inclusion vs exclusion
Instead I said, and still do say, that you need to create an ordered list by asking the question…
Should we do this item before or after that item?
I then made some vague statement about not worrying too much about the order of 2 items if you are struggling to decide. And not to bother going too far down a long list. This is where the pyramid comes in.
The further down a priority list you go, the less import it is top you right now and the more likely things will change by the time you get there. Hence the less effort you should invest now the lower your understanding and confidence will be.
By organising your items into a rough pyramid you naturally spend more effort refining the narrow peak and can be a little more relaxed with your positioning the further down you go.
Equally importantly when someone is viewing or sharing a priority list the pyramid structure far more clearly communicates the fact that there is less consideration between items in the lower tiers.
I am sorry, I am not good at writing short articles, the thoughts just cascade. I’ll go into some more in-depth thinking here but I promise to spin the related ideas out into separate articles: