Multitasking is the problem, we should focus on one thing at a time

Data teams should only work on one thing at a time, but the problem is they often don’t know what the most important thing is.

Stakeholders know the business outcomes they need to achieve, but they often believe that multiple outcomes need to be delivered at the same time to be successful. For each of these business outcomes they have a raft of ideas on the actions that can be taken to achieve these outcomes. Each of these actions should be supported by multiple bits of data and information.

Given this complexity Stakeholders struggle to identify which bits of data and information are the most important right now, and they know that whatever they prioritise today, is likely to change next week or next month.

We use Prioritisation patterns to solve these problems. They provide a forcing function to help Stakeholders identify what data or information will provide the greatest business value and therefore should be the first thing the AgileData team focuses on delivering. They also enable constant iteration of these priorities so they can change at the same cadence the required business outcomes and actions change. If

The Concept of Prioritisation

Prioritisation is the process of identifying and organising the most important work or goals and then allocating resources (such as time, effort, or money) to them in order of their value or urgency.

The goal of prioritisation is to ensure that the most critical or valuable needs are addressed first and that resources are used efficiently and effectively.

Prioritisation is used in every industry, in every business process, in every thing we do on a daily basis. Sometimes prioritisation is a conscious decision by a person or a group of people but most often prioritisation is something we do unconsciously.

Do we clean our teeth before or after eating breakfast, do we have time for a shower this morning before going to work, do I buy breakfast at a cafe or do I save the money for my planned holiday.

Domain Specific Prioritisation

Prioritisation is a critical process in many domains, and each domain uses different inputs or drivers to evaluate what is the most important thing to work on.

In a construction project, the prioritisation process will involve determining which tasks must be completed first to avoid delays or rework, such as laying the foundation before building the walls.

In a hospital emergency room, the prioritisation process will involve triaging patients based on the severity of their injuries or illnesses, with those in the most critical condition receiving treatment first.

In a manufacturing company, prioritisation will involve determining which product lines to manufacture next based on factors such as customer demand, profit margins, and production capacity.

In software development, prioritisation will involve determining which features to implement first based on the goals of the software, available resources, customer demand, technical feasibility and customer feedback.

In a government agency responsible for road maintenance, prioritisation will involve determining which roads to repair first based on factors such as traffic volume, safety concerns, and the cost of repairs.

In the military, prioritisation will involve prioritising objectives based on the strategic importance of a mission, the urgency of a situation, and the potential consequences of different courses of action.

A person who is prioritising options for upskilling may consider factors such as their personal interests, career goals, market demand for specific skills, and available resources such as time and money.

While the inputs and outputs of this prioritisation is specific to the domain the patterns used to prioritise the work are often common across the domains.

Prioritisation Patterns

There are a number of core patterns that are used for prioritisation and there are also many iterations of how to use these patterns, which are patterns in of themselves.

We can categorise prioritisation patterns into three types, core patterns, fixed mindset patterns and growth mindsets patterns.

Core prioritisation patterns refer to the foundational patterns and techniques that are commonly used to prioritise work, the fixed mindset and growth mindset prioritisation patterns are all variations of these core patterns.

Fixed mindset patterns, refer to prioritisation patterns that are based on a fixed or rigid way of thinking. This approach assumes that priorities are static and that once a decision is made, they are not changed. Examples of fixed mindset patterns include the MoSCoW pattern, Kano pattern, value-driven prioritisation, and weighted scoring.

In contrast, growth mindset patterns are based on a more flexible and open-minded approach to prioritisation. This approach assumes that priorities can change based on new information or feedback, and that the team constantly reevaluates and adjusts priorities as needed. Examples of growth mindset patterns include the 5 lanes pattern and the $500 pattern.

Core prioritisation patterns provide a solid foundation for prioritisation. We encourage teams to use the growth mindset patterns over the fixed mindset patterns to foster a more flexible and adaptable approach to the data work that needs to be done. By being open to new information, feedback and iterative prioritisation, teams can continuously improve and optimise their priorities to ensure that they are delivering the most value to their customers and stakeholders.