What do you need done? Everything!
When do you need it done? Now!
But you well know you can’t do everything nor can you get it done now, MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Won’t) is a technique to help prioritize and break down the work that can truly be done now.
- Must – Absolutely has to be done. Consider this something foundational. If you don’t do this, then forget about anything else.
- Should – This too has to be done, but not as badly as Must
- Could – Also considered the “nice to have” list. I could do this but the world wouldn’t fall apart if it didn’t happen
- Won’t – Could be defined as it’s never going to happen and/or just not this time around. Try to be clear as to which definition you’d like it to be.
What to do:
- Create 4 columns marked: Must, Should, Could, Won’t
- You can do this for yourself or in a group. Place all the tasks that need to get done under each of the columns.
- If you find that your Must list is still to large to accomplish, then redo the exercise with just the Must items.
- To help you chop down the must list set a time frame: What must I do this week? today? in the next hour?
- Repeat the exercise every so often to prioritize tasks especially if something changes (team member left, new tasks are added, time frame changed, learned there was a bigger problem under something simple, etc)
In group settings, people may have conflicts with what column things should go under. You certainly want to have discussions about items that jump 2 columns like Must to Could or Should to Won’t. What information do different people have to make them think one way or another? Moving 1 column is not as dire and setting a time frame often clears those up quickly.
Why it works:
This is an application of using increments and adding value. By understanding priorities, people are empowered to make decisions based on those priorities.