Stephen Covey has a well-known quadrant system for priorities that is beneficial for product management in startups. Here’s how it works: there are four boxes based on not important & important up the left and urgent & not urgent across the top in order to prioritize what needs to be done. It looks like this:
The startup urge is to work in Quadrant 1 – important and urgent. Yes, the important and urgent things need to be done but the mistake I commonly see is not enough time spent in Quadrant 2 – important and not urgent. Quad 2 is often infrastructure, big picture, or long-term items that have significant compounding effects. Whereas the general time allocation is likely 90/10 with 90% in quad 1 and 10% in quad 2, the more successful startups consciously do 80/20 with 80% in quad 1 and 20% in quad 2. The next time you look at potential product features, put them in quad 1 and quad 2 buckets and see how the time allocations stacks up.
What else? What are your thoughts on using Covey’s priorities quadrant system for startup product management?