Feature Prioritization and roadmapping

Previous posts have discussed roadmap prioritization, delusions/biases and methods like RICE to reduce bias when deciding what features to add to your Product.

With that in mind, I was browsing a Y-Combinator interview with Brian Donohue, the President of Instapaper, acquired by Pinterest. I thought it was worth sharing.

Brian provided a simplified prioritization technique WITH 2 super-important axes that Product Managers commonly forget because they are “in the weeds”.

Brian would build a table with the following:

  1. Did users request it
  2. Does it give us a competitive advantage
  3. Can we build it into the business model

The first is a no-brainer** if you have a good user-base and repeated asks***.

Second and Third are harder for the Product Manager because often the backlog is so large and detailed its easily to forget to challenge your decisions with a more commercial hat on.

So Brian’s method offers a very pragmatic top-down approach to getting a feature on the roadmap. One way we are trying to do this at Contextual is to map from quarterly OKRs to sprint planning.

Typically we go from:

  1. Trello Board
  2. Challenge against quarterly team and company OKRs
  3. Sprint Plan
  4. Implementation

Its a work-in-progress and still subject to bias but you might like to try adding Brian’s dimensions to your method.

BTW: my good friend Scott Middleton CEO of Jirio/Strategos and Founder of Terem created an Epic List of Every Product Prioritization Frameworks

** if you are not Steve Jobs.

*** we’re also experimenting as an “ideas-driven organization” as inspired by the book titled The Idea-Driven Organization: Unlocking the Power in Bottom-Up Ideas by Robinson & Schroeder.

Here is interview with Brian.

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    Contextual & StreetHawk Inc 2023.