GIST is a structured product planning and development approach, representing Goals, Ideas, Steps, and Tasks. Its purpose is to streamline product development by emphasizing clear objectives, innovative idea generation, manageable project breakdown, and specific task definition. It is useful for product teams planning the work ahead.

gist hierarchy: goal, idea, step and task

GIST: goal, idea, step and task

Step by step:

  1. Align on the Goal: Start by defining the top-level objective for the organization, project, or product. Goals serve as the overarching “why” behind every action, providing a clear sense of purpose.
  2. Brainstorm Ideas: Once goals are set, brainstorm and elaborate on potential ideas to achieve them. These ideas represent “what” could be done to reach the goals.
  3. Break Down into Steps: Take the ideas and break them into smaller, time-bound experiments or step-projects. These projects, often limited to around 10 weeks, ensure focused and efficient progress.
  4. Define Tasks: Tasks represent the smallest actionable units in the GIST framework. They encompass specific product features, enhancements, or actions that can be assigned to the product development team for execution.

 I have learned this activity from Itamar Gilad from his amazing book Evidence-Guided: Creating High-Impact Products in the Face of Uncertainty. Itamar developed this methodology during his time at Google. It addresses the need for agile, goal-centric planning in today’s ever-evolving landscape, where the “why” is as crucial as the “what,” “when,” and “how.”


Remote-team advice: This activity works well for remote teams. Use a remote board of your choice.

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