Focus on Now, forget Later and burn Never


Web startups have to overcome incredible challenges to become successful, the biggest of which is probably figuring out a way to prioritize a seemingly endless list of things you would like to do.

How do you prioritize effectively, balancing the business objectives, consumer expectations and your ability to deliver (resources)?

For me it’s simple, and it has to do with letting go of the belief that you can plan for the years to come; it’s impossible to have a perfectly defined roadmap that answers to business needs and competitive threats that don’t exist yet.

While planning is a great exercise to consider all alternatives and get ready for action, plans are often of little value, and should be discarded as soon as a new opportunity presents itself.

To prioritize effectively in this fluid reality, I have a simple technique that works surprisingly well:

  1. Separate features in Now, Later or Never buckets.
  2. Dispose of what’s in Never.
  3. Archive what’s in Later.
  4. Is the Now release small enough to be executed in one sprint?
  5. If necessary, repeat ad libitum.

Features that end up in the Never bucket can be easily discarded, they were not great ideas to begin with.

The stuff in Later, once it becomes important, will be promoted to Now, or become a Never item.

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