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Priority Poker

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What is Priority Poker?

Priority Poker is an airfocus feature created to prioritize features and initiatives with a group of people in the most collaborative and time-efficient manner. It allows you to decide which new projects to start, or to estimate efforts among a number of criteria of your choosing.

Priority Poker can be done during a live-session or in your own time.

To make the best possible product decisions, product managers often need to incorporate stakeholders’ wisdom and expertise.

However, most of the time, teams and stakeholders have diverging opinions.

If you do eventually gather them into a meeting, you might risk having endless discussions without a constructive conclusion which means delaying development - the worst nightmare for all product managers and decision-makers.

Unlike traditional “democratic” methods of prioritizing items where we collaboratively discuss the rating of items one by one, each player rates items based on their own judgment, but just like a game of Poker, no one gets to see the ratings until it’s time to unveil them. Once the results are in, you can utilize the rating average or start a discussion when estimations differ tremendously.

Why should you use Priority Poker?

Priority Poker can be used in cross-functional teams and can be adapted to various projects. It guarantees alignment while getting selected stakeholders involved in the prioritization process. So if you are looking to save time, and collaborate in a way that includes everyone’s expertise when it comes to prioritizing items, this might be your go-to tool.

No matter how large your team might be, or how many remote stakeholders you have, it can be done completely remotely in a time-efficient manner.

Priority Poker is very flexible, you can change the different levels of priority and even define criteria based on the teammates’ expertise and involvement within the project.

Here’s a snapshot of what Priority Poker is perfect for: :

  • Anything product-related, such as prioritizing features, initiatives and backlog items.

  • Agile product management or scrum to execute sprint planning sessions and estimate efforts.

  • Any design-related task such as choosing personas, user journeys and scenarios.

  • Testing phases to prioritize bugs and fixes.

How does it work?

The owner can play the game in two ways:

  1. Asynchronous: Players do the criteria ratings in their own time (for example, the owner invites players on Monday and asks them to complete the ratings by Friday).

  2. Real-time: Players join a live game where the owner controls the flow by selecting one item to prioritize at a time (owner and players play item by item during a live prioritization meeting).

The game owner can invite an unlimited number of players. Said owner can invite and manage players and even set criteria permissions. Players can join the game on mobile or desktop.

Each player rates the items based on their own judgement, but no one gets to see the ratings (other than the owner) until it’s time to unveil.

Why we love it

  • It resolves the logistical hoops of prioritizing in large teams. It ensures prioritization in a productive and efficient manner, greatly reducing decision-making time while involving and aligning everyone.

  • It allows you to invite experts to your prioritization workflow, be they team members, customers or other external stakeholders to make the best possible decisions.

  • It enables you to give everyone a say which maximizes buy-in from your team.

  • It allows you to beat the HiPPO effect and tackles the issue of people influencing each other, with extroverts typically overshadowing introverts.

  • Remote teams are as much part of the conversation as in-house ones.

Learn more about Priority poker here.

Common prioritization mistakes and how to avoid them

1. Loudest or highest-paid person gut feeling dictating priorities:

The HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) effect - along with that of the loudest person in the room - threatens this process.

We tend to default to decisions to please our seniors, but we’re causing more harm than good. How do we say no to this overpowering voice?

Surely their experience could help, but keep in mind that personal bias always underlies opinions.

Studies even suggest a correlation between successful projects and junior managers who are more prone to welcoming employee opinions, and having their assumptions challenged.

Jeff Bezos once said: “Customer feedback flattens corporate hierarchies”. Your superior may not agree with your opinion.

But he or she will have a hard time arguing against your priorities when they come from a systematic scoring of customer feedback and market intelligence.

2. Lack of external (customer) inputs

Your team might have rounded up some great features for this release, but if they lack customer validation, how will you know they’re desirable?

Always validate your internal assumptions with customer feedback and/or other feedback sources and incorporate it into your decision process.

3. Losing the overview of dependencies

Prioritizing an item to complete it early only works when all preceding cross-team deliverables have been delivered on time.

You might be working on the next big item, but if other departments fail to deliver their preliminary work on time, your ambitious launch date will be delayed. As your product grows, so will your dependencies, and keeping track is a crucial part of it.

Modern product management tools can help you out and make it easy to keep track of your dependencies in a visual way. Visualize all your dependencies and make them a critical player in your prioritization process.

4. Striving to be a me-too product.

You can source valuable intelligence from your competitors, but your product should seek to have a unique selling proposition and prove its value.

This is only achieved based on solid research and getting to know your clients and coming up with innovative ideas. Always strive to set the pace.

5. Don’t build based on the highest bidder.

You might be tempted to prioritize features based on a high paying client. But keep in mind that these should fit your overall business and user goals.

Get our Mastering Prioritization eBook

Learn how to prioritize by making it a simple process, to build products that stand out. Learn more about how to source insight, choose the right prioritization framework and much more.

Get the eBook

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