Focus & Prioritization - how we solved it and you should too!

 Last Updated: August 19, 2016

 August 19, 2016


In our experience of watching companies grow, we came across leaders and organizations wasting much time in auxiliary activities non-crucial for real business. We noticed that the problem is so widespread that it affects many, if not most companies in every industry.

focus and prioritization leads to a mess

Further, it's scary to note that this often goes unnoticed.

Organizations spend too much time in activities different from the core of business or fail to prioritize. This, most of the time, gets carried forward down the chain and the result comes out to be too many man-hours wasted in trivial jobs; tasks having little (or only some) effect on real customers get done first (or in parity with other business-critical tasks). Sure, Key Result Area (KRA) setting exercises help. But as we look closely, KRAs act as tie-breakers only for some, not for all the issues.

Managing your time without setting priorities is like shooting randomly and calling whatever you hit the target.

- Peter Turlatweet this

So we came up with a framework.

While managing Comtify, we categorize all issues / activities under three heads:

1. Lifeline

Activities core to the business.

lifeline activities for a business


If these are not immediately addressed, business will suffer. Such issues typically mean problems with cashflows and core customer experience which a business primarily depends on to survive.

2. Enhancements

Activities needed to grow the business.

enhancements - activities to grow the business

Enhancements, if not addressed, don't make a dent on a business' raison de tere. But, at the same time, are important in the sense that they take a business to the next level. KRA-related activities mostly fall under this head.

3. Experiments

Activities which might work, but there's no guarantee on that.

experiments - activities that might work for the business

Issues or tasks that the business isn't sure about - whether they would definitely work. It also includes many activities which are bound to product a positive effect but 'how much' remains a question to be answered only after doing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or a PoC (Proof of Concept) exercise.




As is evident, business priority will follow the same order: Lifelines are more important than Enhancements, which in turn, fall above Experiments in the order of priority. Every task or activity or even a discussion going on in a business can be segregated into these categories and prioritized accordingly. 

Each project and task in an organization is categorizable into 3 types: Lifelines, Enhancements & Experiments

Secondly, we put Comtify to its full use to take good care of this in our own team. We have 3 public hashtags - #lifeline, #enhancements and #experiments.

Now each issue in any tab - thread, task or share - should have one of these hashtags attached to it. Anybody in the team can attach these tags, but mostly it is the responsibility of the thread starter to do that. In case of difference in opinion, we discuss it out and assign the final hashtag. Simple, right?

Next comes the development process. When these issues go into development, #lifelines are to be addressed immediately with an update pushed to the live server right away. In other words, #lifelines don't wait for a weekly release cycle to be pushed.

With respect to #enhancements, they follow the normal weekly release cycles or builds (as we call them). 

#experiments are introduced in builds only if there's any leeway left after #enhancements. 

Result? A clear team-wide prioritization. Saves valuable man-hours in debates / conflicts / issues related to prioritization. Development team too knows what to push and when.  




What are your thoughts? How do you address prioritization in your own team? Do share your thoughts in comments.

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