Do you really know how to prioritize?

I am quite certain that a categorical YES will be your immediate answer, so as it was mine. Think twice! If any signs of doubt have arisen, this post might be interesting you as it will introduce a prioritization mechanism that I have recently read about: the MoSCoW matrix.

Managing your time without setting priorities is like shooting randomly and calling whatever you hit the target.

Peter Turla

According to Wikipedia, the MoSCoW method is a prioritization technique largely used in PM and software development to reach a common understanding with stakeholders on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement. This prioritization method was firstly developed by Dai Clegg and used extensively with the Agile project delivery framework.

Clearly, it has some similarities with the Eisenhower Matrix, which may be familiar to all of you who have read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Even though I do not intend on going into details, we can say that the main difference lies on the criteria used to classify the tasks. The term MoSCoW itself is an acronym derived from the first letter of each of four prioritization categories (Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have), with the interstitial Os added to make the word pronounceable.

I believe that it is mostly the last category what makes this framework valuable. The Won’t category forces us to be honest with ourselves, reflect on the coming activities, and say no to those that are not align with our strategic objectives.


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