Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization

Goal: Prioritize Backlog Tasks

Overwhelming backlog lists are paralyzing, making it seemingly impossible to take the first step in conquering accumulated assignments. Not only do these intimidating to-do lists constantly grow, but they lose efficiency as more important tasks are added without any order. How do you know the best place to start conquering this debilitating beast? How can you determine the most productive sequence for the assignments? Fortunately, the innovative Agile and Scrum expert, Mitch Lacey, has developed Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization: a revolutionary technique to manage backlogs. As described in his book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice For Your First Year, this game provides a painless way to prioritize tasks, making your backlog list less daunting and more effective.

The Game

To begin, draw a graph on a large poster or white board. On the x-axis write “Size.” This charts the complexity of the backlog item. Label the y-axis “Priority” to designate the urgency of the task. This can be measured by anything the players agree is important, such as ROI or business value. Divide the graph into three vertical sections to help your team organize the assignments based on the amount of effort needed to complete them.

Pass out notecards and pens for players to write backlog items on and post on the chart. When all participants are finished, look at the arrangement of the notecards and collaborate to rearrange them as needed. The top-left section of the chart will be at the top of your work/product backlog, as they are high priority and low-effort tasks. In contrast, the items in the top-right are high priority and large. Players should look for ways to divide these items into smaller tasks to make them more manageable. These may then be separated to different areas depending on their size and priority level. When all the notes are in their appropriate places, order them in a to-do list by starting with those in the top-left corner and moving clockwise.

Why It Works

This game gets team members thinking differently about backlog items. Rather than making a scattered list of debilitating tasks, the Mitch Covey Team Prioritization arranges your accumulated undertakings according to the level of priority and effort needed to accomplish them, allowing for productive advancements.

Mitch Lacey describes this game in his book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice For Your First Year.

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