Oct 11, 2023

Strategic Balance and Flow

Prioritising product features sometimes means generating buzz rather than following traditional frameworks.

Sometimes, being first to market or achieving a quick revenue boost can override the standard roadmap or strategy.

And sometimes, you want to boost team motivation and focus on exciting features, especially after a long stretch of mundane bug fixes. There's no framework for that but for anything else the choice is often between frameworks that can help balance both art and science aspects.

The first one is ICE Framework, which emphasises Impact, Confidence, and Effort. This isn't a one-time solution but an ongoing assessment. After figuring out initial scores, the next step is to gather more info by launching experiments in production and getting real-world data. While user research provides some insights, the true test is when you launch it in the real world.

The second one is Shape Up is used by Basecamp. Prioritisation happens roughly every eight weeks, using a more artistic approach rather than a strictly numerical one. Features or new products are pitched by covering the problem, proposed solution, and expected outcomes. Decisions are based on the business's appetite for risk, typically committing to six-week or two-week development cycles.

How to Balance Short-Term Gains and Long-Term Vision though? The key here is strategy. A well-defined (and communicated) strategy should balance immediate revenue needs with long-term goals. This balance is especially important for startups where validating the business problem or solution is vital. Focusing solely on short-term gains without a clear strategy can jeopardise the long-term vision.

With the balancing act comes the need to keep stakeholders involved or informed. Involvement varies based on company size, maturity, and culture. In a well-aligned business, there shouldn't be excessive processes to involve stakeholders. Over-communication is often necessary, using all available mediums such as emails, meetings, and messaging platforms to ensure stakeholders understand and support the direction.

In one company I worked at, differing priorities and a lack of clear direction led to confusion and inefficiency. Conversations with various teams revealed a common issue: everything seemed important, and there was no clear prioritisation.

A workshop with the executive team, using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), helped streamline priorities. Initially, there were 50 key results—an unmanageable number. This was narrowed down to 15 key results across five objectives, making it more feasible to manage and prioritise.
About Max Antonov
Head of Product @ Backpocket and a Product Coach. I write about product management and random topics that are on my mind. You can find me on Twitter, Substack, LinkedIn or Goodreads