What is the 100 Dollar Test?
The 100 dollar test is a prioritization technique, where each individual member of a group literally puts their (virtual) money where their moth is, placing bids in virtual dollars to indicate relative importance to them, for each item in a list.
What’s the Benefit?
The primary benefits of the 100 dollar test are:
- Speed. It is one of the fastest prioritization techniques that there is
- Simplicity. It is one of the easiest prioritization techniques to facilitate
Use the 100 dollar test any time that you have a list of things where you’d like group input on relative importance of each item in the list, for example, as list of strategic initiatives, product features, or software enhancement requests.
Who attends depends entirely on the context. Consider the following examples:
- Strategic Initiatives. C-level or other senior leaders
- Product Features. Product Managers, Product Owners, technical and/or business domain subject matter experts
- Software Enhancement Requests. Product Managers, Product Owners, feature team members
- A list of things to be prioritized
- A reordered list, based on relative priority
Preparing for Success
In order to use the 100 Dollar Test, we need only a few things to be in place:
- A list of things to be prioritized (ideally no more than 10 to 20)
- It’s okay to come up with the list of things to be prioritized during the same meeting/conversation in which the 100 Dollar Test is to be used, because completion of the 100 Dollar Test itself should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes
- A reasonably small group of people who will be “voting on” (prioritizing) the things in the list (as a general rule, a group size of between about 5 and 15 is ideal)
To facilitate usage of the 100 dollar test:
- Make sure there is agreement on the list of things to be prioritized, along with clarity about what each thing represents (if there is a lack of clarity, be sure to get any open questions answered before continuing)
- List the things to be prioritized in a table/grid
- Explain the rules:
- Each person who is voting (prioritizing) gets 100 virtual dollars to spend to indicate relative importance/priority, where:
- One option is to go “all in” and bid all 100 dollars on only one thing in the list
- The other option is to split the 100 dollars among multiple items on the list, with the proviso that the smallest bid that is allowed on any item is 5 dollars, and the amount spent on any item should be in 5 dollar increments, for instance, 50, 55, 60 …
- (To state the obvious ; ) When each person runs out of virtual dollars, they have to stop bidding!
- Once everybody is clear on the rules, have everybody make their bids
- Suggestion: Have each person make record their bids separately (and silently), so as not to influence the bids of others
- In a separate column, record all of the bids for each item in the list, and total the virtual dollars bid on each item
- (Optional) In a separate column, include notes or other insights that help indicate why some items were prioritized ahead of others
- Have a group conversation, focusing initially on the items that got the highest bids
- Discuss next steps as a group