GIST Planning is a relatively easy and lightweight agile approach to product planning that favors autonomous working. GIST Planning is a lean and agile methodology that was created by former Google product manager Itamar Gilad. GIST Planning seeks to address this situation by creating lightweight plans that are responsive and adaptable to change. GIST Planning also improves team velocity, autonomy, and alignment by reducing the pervasive influence of management. It consists of four blocks: goals, ideas, step-projects, and tasks.
|GIST Planning||Key Elements||Analysis||Implications||Applications||Examples|
|Definition||GIST Planning is a structured approach to project and idea management that focuses on Goals, Ideas, Step-Projects, and Tasks. It aims to align project initiatives with company goals, prioritize ideas, break projects into manageable steps, and track progress.||Analyzing GIST Planning involves understanding each component: – Goals: Clear, measurable objectives that define where the company wants to be and when. – Ideas: Hypothetical ways to achieve goals, collected and prioritized systematically. – Step-Projects: Breaking projects into smaller, experimental steps to reduce risk. – Tasks: Detailed actions required for project execution.||GIST Planning helps organizations set clear objectives, prioritize innovation efforts, reduce project risk, and execute projects efficiently. It ensures that resources are allocated to high-impact ideas and that projects align with strategic goals.||GIST Planning is applicable to various industries and functions, including product development, innovation management, and project management. It is suitable for organizations seeking structured and agile project execution methodologies.||– New product development: Prioritizing product features and development steps. – Innovation management: Managing and prioritizing innovative ideas and experiments. – Project management: Breaking down complex projects into manageable tasks and steps.|
|Goals||Goals represent the desired outcomes that the company wants to achieve. They should be specific, measurable, and time-bound (SMART), aligning with the company’s strategic objectives.||Analyzing Goals involves defining clear objectives, quantifying success criteria, and ensuring alignment with the organization’s mission and strategy. Well-defined goals provide direction and a basis for evaluating project success.||Setting SMART goals is crucial for GIST Planning. Clear objectives guide idea generation, project selection, and resource allocation. Goals provide a framework for measuring project outcomes and impact.||Goals in GIST Planning should be aligned with the organization’s mission and strategic priorities. They help in quantifying project success and ensuring that efforts are directed toward achieving meaningful outcomes.||– Revenue growth: Setting a goal to increase revenue by a specific percentage within a defined timeframe. – Customer satisfaction: Defining a goal to improve customer satisfaction scores by a certain margin. – Market share expansion: Setting a goal to capture a larger market share within a particular market segment.|
|Ideas||Ideas are potential approaches or strategies for achieving the defined goals. They should be systematically collected, organized, and prioritized. A dedicated idea collection system, often referred to as an “idea bank,” is used for this purpose.||Analyzing Ideas involves brainstorming, collecting, and documenting potential approaches to achieving goals. Ideas are then evaluated and prioritized using frameworks like ICE Scoring to identify high-impact concepts. A structured approach ensures that innovation efforts are focused on the most promising ideas.||Prioritizing ideas is a critical step in GIST Planning. It ensures that resources are allocated to initiatives with the highest potential for success. A well-managed idea bank helps organizations systematically track and evaluate innovative concepts.||Ideas serve as the foundation for innovation and project selection. Organizations must encourage idea generation, provide a platform for idea submission, and use prioritization criteria to identify initiatives with the best chance of success.||– Product innovation: Generating ideas for new product features, enhancements, or entirely new products. – Process improvement: Identifying ideas for optimizing operational processes and workflows. – Marketing campaign concepts: Collecting and prioritizing marketing campaign ideas and strategies.|
|Step-Projects||Step-Projects are a key component of GIST Planning and involve breaking larger projects into smaller, time-bound steps or experiments. Each step-project focuses on testing an idea using the Build-Measure-Learn principle, reducing the risk of resource-intensive projects.||Analyzing Step-Projects requires breaking down complex projects into manageable steps or phases. Each step should have a clear purpose, outcome, and timeframe. The Build-Measure-Learn principle is applied to gather insights and refine project direction. The iterative approach minimizes risks and resource wastage.||Step-Projects help organizations avoid investing heavily in unproven ideas. They promote a culture of experimentation and learning, reducing the likelihood of costly project failures. By validating ideas incrementally, organizations can make informed decisions and adapt to changing circumstances.||Step-Projects are integral to agile project management and innovation practices. They are particularly valuable for organizations seeking to validate and refine ideas before committing significant resources.||– Product development: Breaking down the development of a new product into iterative steps, each addressing specific features or functionalities. – Market entry strategy: Testing market entry approaches in smaller, controlled phases to gather market insights. – Agile software development: Adopting an iterative, step-project-based approach to software development.|
|Tasks||Tasks represent the detailed actions and activities required for project execution. They are derived from step-projects and can be further broken down into smaller, manageable sub-tasks. Task management ensures that project work is organized, assigned, and tracked effectively.||Analyzing Tasks involves identifying and documenting the specific actions, responsibilities, dependencies, and deadlines associated with project execution. Task management tools and methodologies are used to organize and track progress. Effective task management ensures that projects stay on track and meet their objectives.||Task management in GIST Planning ensures that project work is well-structured and organized. It facilitates collaboration, accountability, and progress tracking. Breaking tasks into manageable sub-tasks enhances efficiency and helps teams stay focused on project goals.||Task management is essential for project execution across various industries and domains. It ensures that project teams remain aligned and productive. Task tracking and completion are critical for meeting project milestones and achieving desired outcomes.||– Project planning: Defining and assigning tasks for project team members to ensure project milestones are met. – Agile development: Breaking down user stories into individual tasks for sprint planning and execution. – Marketing campaign execution: Managing and tracking tasks related to marketing campaign activities and deliverables.|
Understanding GIST Planning
As a product manager, Gilad understood that there can sometimes be a mismatch between product planning and reality.
While product roadmaps such as Gantt charts help to some extent, these approaches are vulnerable to change initiated by top-down management.
Indeed, the net result of these directives is often the replanning or cancellation of certain projects.
The four blocks of GIST Planning
GIST is built on an acronym consisting of four blocks. Each block has a corresponding planning horizon and frequency of change.
Collectively, project teams must understand that the four blocks encompass a core planning methodology that must be followed in its entirety.
Let’s now take a look at each of the four blocks in more detail:
Where does the company want to be, and when? How will the company know when it has got there?
Goals should ultimately coincide with the reasons for a company undertaking a particular project.
In GIST Planning, ideas are hypothetical ways to achieve goals. Product managers must create a dedicated idea collection system in the form of an “idea bank”.
Here, brainstormed ideas are stored and then prioritized using the ICE Scoring Model or other prioritization frameworks.
Many teams make the costly mistake of picking a promising idea and immediately executing on it.
Without proper due diligence, the team ends up investing heavily in an idea that was never worth the investment.
To reduce risk, each project is broken down into step-projects lasting no more than 10 weeks.
Note that each step-project is an experiment that tests an idea using the Build-Measure-Learn principle. This helps teams avoid wasting resources on pointless projects.
Projects are broken down into step-projects, and step-projects are broken down into tasks that many agile practitioners will be familiar with.
As a result, this block of GIST Planning does not need to change.
What’s important is that the blocks above it can also behave in a somewhat agile manner.
Advantages of GIST Planning
GIST Planning is mostly based on agile principles, but it does have some clear and unique advantages for businesses.
Continual generation, evaluation, and prioritization of ideas
In GIST Planning, there is no potential for one bad idea (followed without due diligence) to stymie 5 great ideas.
With less emphasis on the arbitrary scheduling of ideas, businesses continually cycle through ideas to find the hidden gold.
A key tenet of GIST Planning is the stipulation that ideas must further company goals.
This allows decision makers to devote resources to company wide initiatives that deliver on mission or purpose-related goals.
Disadvantages of GIST Planning
The incremental and iterative nature of GIST Planning means that a business cannot commit to goals beyond a few months into the future.
This compromises the ability of the organization to set goals for large projects that may take years to materialise.
Ultimately, future resource planning and allocation become vague and uncertain, potentially hindering growth and agility while also making the company more reactive.
- GIST Planning is an agile approach to project planning based on the principles of lean start-up and agile development. It favours team autonomy and velocity through a reduced management presence.
- GIST Planning is based on four blocks that encompass a planning methodology: goals, ideas, step-projects, and tasks. Each block runs concurrently with a specific planning horizon and frequency of change.
- GIST Planning advocates the continuous generation and evaluation of idea. This helps project teams avoid sinking time and money into projects that turn out to be unviable. However, businesses that adopt GIST Planning may have trouble implementing large projects that require a commitment lasting more than a few months.
Key Concepts in GIST Planning:
- Definition: GIST Planning is an agile and lightweight approach to product planning that emphasizes team autonomy and adaptability. It consists of four blocks: goals, ideas, step-projects, and tasks.
- Purpose: GIST Planning aims to address the mismatch between traditional product planning approaches and changing realities. It enables teams to respond to change and reduces top-down management influence.
- Four Blocks of GIST Planning:
- Goals: Define where the company wants to be and when, aligned with the reasons for undertaking a project.
- Ideas: Hypothetical ways to achieve goals, stored in an “idea bank” and prioritized using frameworks like the ICE Scoring Model.
- Step-Projects: Projects broken down into smaller step-projects, lasting up to 10 weeks, using Build-Measure-Learn principles.
- Tasks: Further breakdown of step-projects into tasks, ensuring alignment with agile principles.
- Advantages of GIST Planning:
- Continual Idea Generation: Ongoing generation, evaluation, and prioritization of ideas, allowing for exploration of multiple possibilities.
- Goal-Driven Development: Ideas are aligned with company goals, focusing resources on initiatives that contribute to the company’s mission.
- Disadvantages of GIST Planning:
- Short-Sightedness: Focus on short-term goals may hinder long-term planning for larger projects that require extended commitments.
- Resource Planning Challenges: Limited ability to plan resources for projects beyond a few months, potentially impacting growth and agility.
Connected Agile & Lean Frameworks
- Business Models
- Business Strategy
- Business Development
- Distribution Channels
- Marketing Strategy
- Platform Business Models
- Network Effects
Main Case Studies: