Based on my blog post Guide to Product Planning: Three Feature Buckets.
"How should we prioritize product features?"
I wrote a popular post on this topic in 2009 that describes my approach in more detail.
Most teams fall into the trap of trying to find a single formula to rank all of their product ideas. Unfortunately, this pits features that move metrics, like engagement and revenue, against customer requests and delight features. Over time, teams that do this inevitably focus exclusively on metrics, and their relationship with their customers suffers.
This advice is based on an approach to avoid that trap. It takes the form of a simple classification framework for the features that you are considering for a product, whether it’s a single “large scale” launch, or a series of product features that are planned out on a roadmap.
Place your feature concepts in one of three buckets:
1. Metrics Movers.
These are the features that are designed to move a key business metric, typically growth, engagement or revenue.
2. Customer Requests
These are features requested by customers. They rarely move metrics, but are critical towards building a long term relationship with your customers based on listening and responding.
These are features that aren’t requested by customers, but when they see them, they are surprised by them and inspired by them. They are critical towards building a strong emotional attachment with your customers.
I’ve found that categorizing features into these buckets forces product teams to be intellectually honest with why they are implementing a certain feature. Is it because customers want it? Or is it because the company wants it to move metrics? Or is it just cool?
A Coda doc to bring Three Bucket Product Planning to life
Since I wrote the blog post, I’ve had a lot of people reach out with practical questions on applying the philosophy. For example, at Dropbox, we’re heavy users of Jira - but it’s not that easy to do this prioritization there, since a lot of the context (e.g. metrics analysis and customer requests) lives outside Jira.
When the Coda team told me about their hot new “Packs Tables” feature (so I can sync Jira issues into Coda), I saw this as a perfect use case.
The goal of this doc is to enable you to see where your team is focused by classifying each of your Jira issues, and which of the 3 buckets need attention. It also enables going bucket by bucket and addressing the unique needs of metrics movers, customer requests, and customer delight issues.
My name is Adam Nash, and I’m currently the Vice President of Product & Growth at Dropbox. I head the team responsible for product strategy, product management & product analytics for a platform with over 500 million registered users. Before Dropbox, I served as President & CEO of Wealthfront, EIR at Greylock Partners, VP Product at LinkedIn, and previous roles at eBay & Apple.