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Rituals for hypergrowth: An inside look at how YouTube scaled

Big Rock $100 prioritization

What’s a Big Rock? And what’s the $100 exercise?
First, what’s a Big Rock? This video is a great demonstration:

The core idea is simple: if you’re trying to fill a jar, you put the big rocks in first. Then there’s plenty of room for small rocks, sand, etc to fill in the rest. But if you put the sand first, then the small rocks, then the big rocks, the big rocks won’t fit.

We loved this analogy at YouTube and regularly referred to “Big Rocks.” And a key part of our H1 / H2 strategic planning was picking this set of Big Rocks. We tried many ad-hoc ways to do this, but the most productive technique was the $100 exercise:
If you have a fictitious $100 to spread between each of the candidate Big Rocks, how do you distribute them?

A key to this process was distributing privately, then collectively looking at the results. At YouTube, this was sometimes done in very low-fi ways (post-its on a whiteboard) and shifted to a Google Sheet as the team grew more distributed. The below example mimics the process in Coda. Feel free to play below or
copy this doc
to make your own version.

Step 1
| Add candidate Big Rocks.

Step 2
| Every individuals allocates their $$.

Step 3
| Review the results as a team.

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