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Rituals for hypergrowth: An inside look at how YouTube scaled
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Implementation

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:

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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.
Start by adding candidate Big Rocks.

At YouTube, I would seed the first few, and the team would add others from our various brainstorming sessions. It was important to keep this list fairly small — the focus was on the tradeoffs — so I would adjust the list to remove duplicates etc before starting.

When you’re ready to start, click
clear sample data
to add your own Big Rock candidates.

Big Rock name
Why should we consider this Big Rock?
1
Channelization
Channels form the backbone of...
2
Make YT blazing fast
Performance is a feature...
3
Launch YT Kids
Growing number of kids...
4
Launch YT Music
X% of watch time is spent on music...
There are no rows in this table

Step 2
| Every individuals allocates their $$.
Each team member should allocate $100 to each of the initiatives and fill in comments. Note that the table below will filter so each person can only see their own allocations. To start, each person should click this button:
Join the game

Allocate $
100
across priorities. You are currently at $
0
.
Rank
Person
Priority
Points
Notes
1
1
SM
Channelization
000
60
Change the primary YT noun from video to channel!
2
2
SM
Launch YT Music
000
25
Key step for our top use case
3
3
SM
Make YT blazing fast
000
10
Regain our core strength
4
4
SM
Launch YT Kids
000
5
Experiment in custom YT experiences
No results from filter
100
Sum

Step 3
| Review the results as a team.
Now it’s time for the reveal and discussion! Note, don’t unfold this section until everyone finishes their individual allocations. Below you’ll see the average allocations and a sense of the point distribution. You can also use
Image 2021-03-09 at 3.47.29 PM.png
to the left of each row to drill into the details and see everyone’s comments.

Big Rock name
Why should we consider this Big Rock?
Point distribution
Average
1
Channelization
Channels form the backbone of...
70
65
60
12
52
2
Make YT blazing fast
Performance is a feature...
35
35
25
10
26
3
Launch YT Music
X% of watch time is spent on music...
42
25
14
5
22
4
Launch YT Kids
Growing number of kids...
39
5
5
0
12
There are no rows in this table


That’s it! Remember to hit
clear sample data
to use this for your own team.




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