Sequence the Features

22 February 2022

This page is part of The Lean Inception article series

The purpose of a Minimum Viable Product is to create the simplest version of a product that we can use to validate a small set of assumptions about the product vision and it's role in a business. Now that we have a map of features integrated with user journeys, we are in a position to work out the MVP and the following increments. We do this by defining a Features Sequencer

An example of a features sequencer

How we do it

  1. Create the Features Sequencer template (typically a flipchart with numbered lines; the line height should fit one feature card, the line width should fit three feature cards).
  2. Explain the feature sequencer rules.
  3. Remind everyone about the activity goal: To define the sequence that we will deliver the features of the product. Our goal with an MVP is to learn from each iteration by building an MVP that will allow us to test if our business case is effective.
  4. Everyone places the feature cards on the sequencer, moving them around as we explore the options, until we reach an agreement.
  5. The result shows the features for the MVP and the product increemnts.

The Feature Sequencer rules

  • Rule 1: A line can contain a maximum of 3 features.
  • Rule 2: A line cannot contain more than one feature with a red card (high uncertainty).
  • Rule 3: Each line must have at least one green feature (low uncertainty).
  • Rule 4: The effort score of the features cannot add up to more than 5 Es.
  • Rule 5: The value score of the features must sum to at least 4 $s.

We came up with these rules after running many lean inceptions, finding them a good way to guide the iterative construction of the MVP.

Rule 1 limits the number of features being worked on at the same time (work in progress). By focusing on just a few prioritized features, it avoids having partially-done features clogging up the discovery process.

Rules 2, 3 and 4 prevent an unbalanced work period with either too much uncertainty, or too much effort. Rule 5 keeps a constant focus on delivering high business value.

Workshop teams using the Features Sequencer

The Lean Inception
Monday Introduce the inception, kick off, and Write the Product VisionThe product Is – Is not – Does – Does not
TuesdayDescribe the PersonasDiscover the Features
WednesdayTechnical, User eXperience and Business ReviewShow the User Journeys
ThursdayDisplay Features in JourneysSequence the Features
FridayBuild the MVP Canvas Showcase the results of the inception to those interested in the project

This page is an activity of The Lean Inception, for an overview go to the main page.

For more details on how to run a workshop, consult the book.