What is stepwise programming?

Stepwise programming is a very useful way to prioritise when there are many variables at play.

The key benefit of the approach is that you do NOT try to understand and prioritise every thing at once against everything else. Instead you break the problem down into very small pieces and move through each one methodically. You then come up with a ranking of the importance of each variable from top to bottom.

And the approach scales well. You can do it on your own or you can get a lot of people to use the process at once to form a consensus about what issues really matter the most. I have used the approach for everything from setting priorities in retrospectives to ranking the capabilities needed in a team to structure more effective training.

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Using MoSCoW to prioritize ideas

I have been on a lot of projects in my time and I used to prioritise ideas or requirements as “high”, “medium” or “low” importance.

If people classified their requirement as low,however, we would record the requirement in a long list, thank them for their idea and then never talk about it again.  If they classified it as medium then we promised get to it in “phase 2”, which meant after we ran out of money.

People learned over time to classify all of their requirements as high priority so we started adding new classifications like critical or super ultra high, which didn’t help at all.

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