Holy cow, I wrote a book!
The phenomenon I call priority inflation has spread to
product planning documents as well.
Back in the old days, there were three priority levels:
Over the past few years, I've seen a shift in the labelling
of priorities in planning documents.
A new priority has been introduced:
Nobody has explained to me what
Priority 0 means,
but I assume somebody invented it to emphasize that
the feature is even more critical than priority 1.
Mind you, I'm not sure what could be more important to a project than
"If we don't do this, we're all fired."
Maybe "If we don't do this, the earth will explode."
As you might expect, priority inflation has a trickle-down effect.
People whose features had been assigned priority 1 said,
"Hey, how come my feature isn't priority 0?
It's just as critical as that other guy's feature."
Soon, everything that was priority 1 got reclassified as
Nature abhors a vacuum, so all the priority 2 items got
reclassified as priority 1,
and the priority 3 items got reclassified as priority 2.
In the end, nothing changed aside from the names on the buckets.
It's been years since I've seen a planning document with any
priority 3 items.
It's all zero, one, and two now.
Wait, I lied.
The meaning of the last bucket (the former priority 3,
now named priority 2) has changed.
It used to be things that would be nice to have,
but now it appears to be used for
something other people suggested which I didn't think was important,
but I didn't want to be mean and reject it outright,
so I'm listing it here to make those people feel better and showing
that their "voice was heard,"
but don't kid yourself; we're not going to do it.
In other words, priority 2 means No.
I give it three years before somebody decides that an issue
is even more critical than priority 0 and labels it
After I originally wrote this entry,
I've learned that some teams have indeed come up with
a priority level even more important than Priority 0.
It's called Priority Now.