Prune The Product Tree
One of Oracle’s product development groups faced a typical challenge in software companies: the conversation with customers about new features wasn’t getting to the heart of what they wanted. The information they were getting didn’t help the product team effectively prioritize among features they could develop. The normal channel for having these conversations — one-on-one discussions with representative customers, focus groups, etc. — didn’t deliver the results they wanted.
To change the conversation, the team turned to the Prune The Product Tree game. Customers arrayed the features they wanted on the drawing of a tree, in which each leaf represented an important type of functionality, and each leaf represented a leaf that belonged to that branch.
This exercise pushed the participants to think carefully about the logical connections among features. The collection of features needed in the next release to solve a customer problem became more clear. The exercise also pushed the product team into deeper discussions about the value of the features they planned to develop.