To my customers and in my previous articles, I keep telling people that you cannot skip the prioritization step. Nothing goes without a priority. For example, whether someone is doing a product selection process or maybe they’re getting new features in an already-existing system – in either case, people sometimes refuse to prioritize the requested features because they say “it’s all important.”
Sometimes, they have good reason to think they won’t get the lower priority items, as project budgets sometimes get cut before the lower priority items can be finished. But, and I’m going to repeat this, “Nothing goes without a priority!”
I was having a phone discussion with someone else about this just yesterday, where we were comparing the bad things that happen when you don’t prioritize things, yourself. Actually, there’s only one bad thing that happens – it’s that someone else prioritizes it for you.
For example, if you have 10 things you want, but 5 are critical and 5 are just nice-to-have, you might hand this list to someone thinking they’ll “just know” which are important. They won’t. They might do the easiest thing, first, to get it out of the way. Or, they might pick the hardest thing because they know it will take the most planning and effort. Maybe they will try to think what other customers would have said was most important and pick that to do, first, but we’re not usually right when we guess. No-one knows your real priority except you and anyone that has to guess at it will usually be wrong.
Think of the space-time continuum — no-one really does everything you give to them at the exact same time. Dump a stack of things on someone’s proverbial desk and time continues to march forward, meaning that they cannot accomplish each task at exactly the same point in time. Thus, this means that they do pick something to do, first. What if they run out of time? Or, the budget gets cut? Or, they get hit by that bus we always talk about? Wouldn’t you like them to have finished your most important thing, first?
Bottom Line: Make sure you get your most important things before your lesser-priority things by prioritizing them; otherwise, we’ll do it for you and you won’t like it! And if you’re thinking of breaking the space-time continuum – don’t try it! That never ends well in the movies!! 😉