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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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13.1. Priorities make things happen

A large percentage of my time as a PM was spent making ordered lists. An ordered list is just a column of things, put in order of importance. I'm convinced that despite all of the knowledge and skills I was expected to have and use, in total, all I really did was make ordered lists. I collected things that had to be done—requirements, features, bugs, whatever—and put them in an order of importance to the project. I spent hours and days refining and revising these lists, integrating new ideas and information, debating and discussing them with others, always making sure they were rock solid. Then, once we had that list in place, I'd drive and lead the team as hard as possible to follow things in the defined order. Sometimes, these lists involved how my own time should be spent on a given day; other times, the lists involved what entire teams of people would do over weeks or months. But the process and the effect were the same.

I invested so much time in these lists because I knew that having clear priorities was the backbone of progress. Making things happen is dependent on having a clear sense of which things are more important than others and applying that sense to every single interaction that takes place on the team. These priorities have to be reflected in every email you send, question you ask, and meeting you hold. Every programmer and tester should invest energy in the things that will most likely bring about success. Someone has to be ...

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