3 Step Prioritisation Process

Today we’re going to talk about Bobby, a great software engineer at a big tech company.

Bobby is a 30-year-old single male living in Amsterdam, making enough money to afford a comfortable lifestyle. He travels once every six weeks, stays in 4-star properties, and enjoys buying expensive clothing and electronics.

Bobby is also ~20 KGs overweight. He has had weight issues for most of his adult life. He’s tried everything you can think of – Keto diets, Intermittent Fasting, HIIT tutorials, Yoga, crash diets – hoping to lose weight. He’s had minor successes, but he’s been unable to keep his weight off consistently.

Now Bobby is concerned about his health and has decided to approach the situation holistically. He wants to simultaneously focus on three aspects of health: exercise, a healthy diet, and a good lifestyle.

This time around, he is determined to change his life for good. So he starts exploring multiple options.

For exercise, he creates the below list of options (sorted by low price to high price)
1. Online free video tutorials
2. Online paid group classes
3. Online paid 1:1 classes
4. Join a gym
5. Fitness trainer (face-to-face classes)
6. Join a gym with a personal trainer
7. Get a top-of-the-end personal trainer (face-to-face classes, nutrition planning, lifestyle coach)

He creates similar lists for nutrition planning and lifestyle coaching.

After analysing the above list and acknowledging his own limitations, Bobby wants to choose the top-of-the-end personal trainer, as that will have the highest impact. The trainer will give him the discipline he lacks and get him the holistic solution he seeks.

This option is also the most expensive.

Bobby does not want to increase his monthly expenditure. So he knows he needs to reduce expenses elsewhere to make room for the new expense.

He thinks of the possible tradeoffs and decides to reduce his travel frequency and get the trainer’s silver plan instead of the gold plan. (Silver plan does not include nutrition planning)

But then he remembers that exercise without a good diet plan will not have the same impact as doing both simultaneously.

So he does more research on Reddit, talks to friends, finds other success stories, and then decides to buy nutrition coaching from a specialist who has had excellent results with others like Bobby. This nutrition plan is not very expensive, and getting this plan will still allow Bobby to stay within his monthly budget.

The final solution that Bobby decides to buy includes: silver plan (which includes exercise and lifestyle coaching) from a top fitness coach and a nutrition plan from another coach. This combination allows him to get a holistic program that maximises the chances of success and minimises the impact on his other priorities.

Through this story, we can see that Bobby prioritised very effectively, keeping in mind the impact, tradeoffs, and goals.

Bobby’s 3-step prioritisation framework is highly effective and makes a good model for product managers:

1. Maximise impact: to maximise impact, Bobby wanted to choose the Gold plan with the trainer.

2. Maximise ROI by considering resource constraints: Bobby values other things in life and does not want to give up on other essential aspects. So he deprioritised the items that would have the least impact on his other goals.

3. Align with the larger goals (and strategy): Bobby started by setting a clear goal – get a holistic health plan. To stay true to that goal, he took a scrappy approach of finding even more alternatives with a similar impact but low cost.

If you’re a product manager, prioritise like Bobby:

1. Optimise for impact first.
2. Then tradeoff other items with lower impact to make room for the new items.
3. Lastly, ensure that the roadmap represents the most effective way of meeting that larger goal.

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