The “Now, Next, Later” activity is an invaluable tool for teams seeking to streamline communication of priorities and timeframes. This activity simplifies traditional roadmap planning by shifting the focus away from strict calendars and deadlines, highlighting the importance of prioritizing high-impact opportunities while providing a clear view of what lies ahead.

now, next, later activity

Step by Step:

  1. Define the Discussion Topic: Begin by pinpointing the specific topic or area of focus for the discussion.
  2. Set Up the Board: Clarify the three sections on the board:
    • Now: These tasks require immediate attention or are on the verge of being addressed.
    • Next: These tasks follow once everything in the “Now” section is completed. They may be less detailed and could depend on the outcomes of items in the “Now” category.
    • Later: These are proposals or ideas for the more distant future, potentially in the conceptual stage with undefined solutions.
  1. Participants’ Input: Encourage participants to contribute their notes or tasks to the appropriate sections on the board.
  2. Combine and Discuss: Consolidate similar notes, initiate discussions to explore both commonalities and differences, and arrive at informed decisions as a team.

The “Now, Next, Later” activity is especially beneficial for product teams navigating the early stages of development. It facilitates transparent communication of broad plans without being tied down to specific details or rigid deadlines. This adaptability is crucial when shaping the course of a new product or business. Furthermore, its simplicity makes it ideal for engaging large audiences, ensuring that everyone can readily grasp the path ahead.

 

The “Now, Next, Later” activity is a widely recognized technique in agile and product management. When searching for the creator of this activity, I came across this great article by Janna Bastow:  Why I Invented the Now-Next-Later Roadmap.

 

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

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