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  • Writer's pictureSimon Rojas

Winning, Priorities, and Outcomes

Updated: Apr 11

If you want to be a great product owner then one skill you must be great at is managing priorities and if you would like to learn how to become better at this then I invite you to play a quick game with me: Picture a moment when you worked with a team and the priorities were unclear, muddled, or constantly changing. As you do this, try to remember who you were with, the company you worked for, and what meeting you

where in. Once you have this picture take a second and think about how it felt to be in that situation. I imagine you were able to feel the frustration, confusion, and stress that you, team members, or stakeholders often feel in this situation. Unfortunately this is a common experience that software development teams find themselves in more often than they would like. 

The good news is that as product owners we can keep those types of situations from ever occurring by being great at managing the team’s priorities by focusing the team on delivering work that delivers wins to the business. If you follow sports then you may be familiar with the phrase “winning cures all” which means that nothing helps lift the mood more and reduce the tension more in the organization than winning. Winning makes work more fun as objectives are met and when work is more fun we are more creative, more productive, and more pleasurable to be around. I think that as product owners we can greatly influence winning by being better at managing priorities because the priorities influence future outcomes. If you want to help yourself, your team, and your company win more then we need to be great at managing priorities. If you would like to continue to learn more then follow this simple guide or reach out to me to discover a more personalized approach to learn how to get better at this skill.

Four easy steps to improve how you manage priorities: 

  1. Write down your desired outcomes over a day, week, month, or any time period 

  2. Rank order your outcomes

  3. Analyze your current behaviors and decisions as they pertain to your desired outcomes

  4. Repeat 1 - 3 

Example: My outcome for today is to keep my body in shape, nourish it, rest it, and expand my professional network. I then ordered my outcomes in the following order. 

  1. Play soccer

  2. Cook a healthy meal

  3. Get at least 8 hours of sleep

  4. Grow professional network

Now let’s use this real-world example to see how this works: 

In the middle of the workday I am invited to join co-workers for happy hour and by going I get an extra opportunity to grow my professional network.

Scenario A - Prior to setting my outcomes:

  1. Go to happy hour

  2. Consume multiple drinks

  3. Eat bar food which was often fried and unhealthy food

  4. Stay out late

  5. Go home

  6. Go to sleep late

Outcome A: Spent entire evening building professional connections, but did not make any progress on other desired outcomes. 

Scenario B - After setting my outcomes: 

  1. Go to happy hour and consume a non-alcoholic beverage

  2. Leave in time to play soccer

  3. Go home

  4. Cook a healthy meal

  5. Go to sleep early

Outcome B: Was able to achieve all my main outcomes and while making some progress on growing my professional network.

The differences between scenario A and B stem from being able to make intentional decisions that are aligned with my outcomes. I was better at this under scenario B than scenario A because I had very explicit outcomes to help me understand the implications of my decisions as it pertained to my desired outcomes. As a result my decision making has improved significantly because I now make more choices that are more aligned with my outcomes. This skill is critical as a product owner because we frequently have to make prioritization decisions and we need our decisions to yield great outcomes. Furthermore when we put our team in a position to produce great outcomes then we then help create an environment that is more fun, creative, and pleasurable for everyone involved because we yield more wins for everyone involved. 

If you would like to learn more please reach out or share this with anyone that you think can benefit from this.

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