Delegated stakeholders

Stakeholders are busy people and they may try and delegate their attendance at the prioritisation workshop to somebody that reports to them. But while they will delegate the attendance, they often won’t delegate the decision making authority.

This will manifest itself with the delegate stating they will need to “check” with the stakeholder before they can confirm which are the most important Information Products or the stakeholder will ask to be taken through the prioritisation once it has been done to “confirm” it.

For all the AgileData prioritisation patterns we are leveraging self-organising patterns in the prioritisation workshops, which means every attendee needs to be empowered to make or agree the trade-off decisions needed during the workshops. Once we introduce a dependency outside this process we lose the value of the workshop. Once one stakeholder delegates the rest of them are likely to follow and then the workshop becomes a recommendation process not a prioritisation process.

If a stakeholder is not able to attend the workshop or is unwilling to delegate their decision making authority to a person who can attend, then they lose their privilege to be part of the decision making process. In our experience they will only miss it once, when they realise it is the place that decisions on business value are being made.


Depending on your organisation’s culture you may find that the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HIPPO) drives the prioritisation process.

You will observe this anti-pattern when the stakeholders in the workshop all defer the prioritisation process to a single individual, and do not actively engage in the prioritisation process themselves.

You will see this happen more often in the 5 Lanes prioritisation workshop pattern, than in the 500 pattern. HIPPO’s seem more comfortable with moving cards around (and people less comfortable with moving them afterwards) and less comfortable telling somebody publically where to place their fake money. So if it is a behaviour you want to modify, change to a prioritisation workshop pattern that restricts this HIPPO behaviour such as 500.

The key outcome of the workshop is a prioritised list of Information Products the AgileData team needs to deliver, and clarity on which one they should deliver first. While we know patterns which involve multiple people crowd-sourcing decisions provide a better outcome, if the organisation culture is for one senior person to make business value and trade-off decisions, then we may want to respect that culture. In that case there is little value in running a workshop with multiple stakeholders attending and we should just run the workshop with the HIPPO on their own.

More than one priority #1

On rare occasions we have worked with stakeholders that end up prioritising multiple Information Products as the top importance, regardless of the prioritisation workshop pattern we use. They will struggle or refuse to select a single Information Product as the highest priority.

In this situation we mention to the stakeholders that given there are multiple priority one Information Products, and therefore they are all of equivalent priority and business value then the AgileData team will choose the order in which they deliver them.

We explain that regardless of the order the team delivers them, all priority one Information Products will be delivered in the same timeframe regardless of which one the team works on first, second and third etc.