Know When to Say 'No'
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We are surrounded by noise and countless competing priorities. It's stressful, overwhelming, and almost impossible to focus on what really matters. 

And it's exactly that focus — the decision of where you invest your time and resources, and the decision of when to say 'no' — that will make the difference to... well, everything. 

So how can you effectively prioritise? When should you say 'no'? Here are some models to help. I've chunked them into four main areas to help you prioritise which ones are most relevant for you right now (ironic right?). So let's dive in:  

Prioritising the big life choices: 

  • Buffet's Two Lists

Prioritising fast and in multiple contexts: 

  • Eisenhower Matrix
  • Pareto Principle
  • Kanban
  • Impact Effort Matrix

Prioritising products and requirements

  • Kano Model
  • MOSCOW Method
  • RICE Score

Prioritising for business

  • BCG Growth-Share Matrix
  • GE McKinsey Nine Box Matrix

Let's get into more detail with each:

It's a simple Mental Model that ironically you should use for big life decisions and charting out your high priority values (and saying 'No' to the rest).

Are you focusing on what's urgent and important? This is a flexible tool that can be used daily as a task list to transform your day.

It's a model that get's a lot of mentions for a reason. It's a simple, powerful and adaptable way to identify high value areas of effort.

This model can be applied for personal prioritisation, but is most commonly used for business prioritisation as part of Agile Methodology.

Inspired by the Eisenhower Matrix, this model charts potential impact versus potential effort.

Now we get into the product and even business priority methods. Though the previous can be used for that, these models dig a little deeper. The Kano Model maps customer satisfaction versus level of execution to categorise options.

The MoSCoW Method is a tool commonly applied to prioritising requirements as part of a Business Analyst process but, like all models, can be used more broadly.

A seemingly simple equation that scores potential products for prioritisation.

And finally, we move into the more robust prioritisation methods used to analyse business or product offers. This one is the BCG Matrix that assess level of growth versus market share.

This model was developed by McKinsey and GE when they decided that the BCG Growth-Share Matrix were not comprehensive enough.


That's it for this Playbook. It's a broad overview, covering a range of prioritisation models. Keep an eye out for future Playbooks that will get into alternative combinations and specific areas. 

Until then, may you say 'no' when it counts so you can stay sane and make a huge impact as a result!

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