January 12, 2024

What’s Wrong With Frameworks

The Framework That Shows What’s Wrong With Frameworks

In our previous article, we presented some key basic notions related to prioritization in product development. Next, we’ll focus on specific frameworks that are often used to boost the process of prioritization. Today let’s talk about the Eisenhower matrix. 

A backlog is a list of tasks that a product team completes during a time period. This list is linear, and its most urgent tasks are located at the top of it. The Eisenhower matrix defines the order of tasks. It provides a classification based on such parameters as urgency and importance.  According to this framework, tasks can be: 

  • Urgent, important 
  • Not urgent, important, 
  • Urgent, not important
  • Not urgent, not important 

This scheme presents an obvious problem: if you have anything urgent + not important, you will prioritize it over not urgent + important. You’re going to devote your resources to important stuff only when it becomes urgent. 

If you have an urgent + important task, it becomes your No.1 priority. Whatever is urgent + not important is out of the system. 

Balancing between urgent and important tasks is the greatest problem of any prioritization process. Urgent tasks have a deadline and managers push them forward in the backlog. Important tasks are crucial for the business, as they move it towards reaching its goals – but they are not time-limited. 

Lean production philosophy states: when your startup is still small and you have almost nothing to risk, you can skip most of your urgent tasks. If you focus on the important ones, you’ll get closer to your goals. Just embrace the possibility of risks and focus on growing

Prioritizing is all about finding the right balance between important and urgent tasks. 

However, when your company grows, you have more employees, processes, clients, and partners. In other words, you’ll have more risks, obligations, and responsibilities that will take away your resources from the important tasks. It’s much harder to choose priorities if there’s a lot at stake. 

The biggest question is how do we take care of important tasks without postponing them? The key is to delegate urgent + not important tasks to others. Take it as a ground rule: a product team’s capacity is always limited by its leaders’ focus of attention. In this situation, you should outsource all tasks that are not crucial to the business goal. Organize your workflow in a way that allows leaders to pay less attention to unimportant tasks. 

As always, this is easier said than done. That’s why in our next articles we’ll discuss ways of managing the focus of attention, and cover a few other frameworks that potentially fix the issue of balance between the urgency and importance. Stay tuned!

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