Saying no to good ideas

(Value / effort) x confidence = priority

When we’re looking at a backlog of potential features or a flood of new ideas to prioritise. We know every stakeholder, executive and member of the team will have a different opinion or preference. How do you choose what to do next?

When you know your why… it's easier to say no to good ideas. If an idea doesn't contribute to your objectives it won't bring you the value to meet your vision. 

(Value / effort) x confidence = priority 

This formula is by Bruce McCarthy, priorities ideas based the value you expect it would contribute to your objectives, over the effort that would be required and multiplied by the confidence in both Value and Effort.

To fill out the formula, we need to engage the wider team and have an essential discussion about what these numbers mean. In the formula; the value can be estimated with 1, 2 or 3 for low, medium or high based on the combined value the idea has to both the company and user. The effort uses a similar scale of 1, 2 or 3 representing whether it will be easy, medium, or really hard to implement.

These two numbers are divided to produce a raw value over effort score. It’s here you can identify quick-wins or longer initiative and the perceived gains. However, like with all assumptions we first need to validate these scores and increase certainty in knowing which idea will have the greatest impact on our outcomes.

Confidence from how much evidence we have, versus how much we’ve had to guess is measured on a percentage scale; from a complete guess of 0.0, there’s a little evidence of 0.25, fairly sure of 0.5, Done a lot of research and are very sure we’re right of 0.75, to absolutely, incontrovertibly sure of 1.0.

The Confidence number penalises us when we’ve wrongly guessed the value or effort. It rewards teams that invest in research to increases confidence and deliver better-designed products. We can increase the confidence scores by collecting research conducted with our customer, both quant and qual. Gathering insights from experimentations to proof of concepts. Start discovery on the high-value low-effort items and validate the scores. Your learnings will increase confidence and prove it the idea contains value or uncovers hidden complexities.

Saying no to good ideas is an absolute must

Stay focus on outcomes and the ideas that will contribute to the vision. With this formula as a framework, those ideas without confidence will have less priority. However, those without value can be simply discarded because it doesn't fit your vision.

As a UX design leader, I help product teams create better experiences to capture more value. Through the design research, I increase confidence in assumptions to create better products people are willing to change their behaviour for. I’m obsessed about crafting amazing digital experiences and help Product Managers achieve their objectives.