Martin Aziz

Squirrel North

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Priority Lists Don't Work

Have you ever created a list of priority items, only to later discover that many of the items lower on the list never seem to get started? Have you ever created a list of priorities of approved items, but you don't start everything right away? Some items start right away while for others it's unclear when they will start. Have you ever created a priority list, but once you start working on them, it’s unclear how the work should be treated compared to everything else already started? Have you ever created a list of priorities, but once you start working, the work later gets interrupted by other work seen as even more important? Have you ever had a priority list compete with another priority list?

Priority lists have been with us as far as we can remember without too much thought, whether expressed as a requirements document, project plan, or agile backlog. And unfortunately, they just don't work!

The good news is that we can replace Priority Lists with better tools available in the Kanban Method. Let's explore the concepts of Good Options, Commitment, Class of Service, and Capacity Allocation as ways to finally retire the priority list for good.



Martin helps organizations develop improved business delivery capabilities through multi-disciplinary approaches including Kanban, Systems Thinking, and Agile methods. He helps leaders at all levels in organizations (Exec to managers) with pragmatic and actionable support & guidance.

Martin is actively affiliated with Lean Kanban Inc. as a Accredited Kanban Coach (AKC+KCP) and Accredited Kanban Trainer (AKT). He is one of the founding organizers of the monthly meetup group Systems Thinking Toronto and Kanban Toronto. He speaks regularly at conferences focusing on improving how businesses are organized.