GIST Planning is a product management framework created by Itamar Gilad (an experienced product manager, coach, and speaker with over 20 years experience at Google, Microsoft, and other companies) based on the principles of Lean Startup and Agile Development.
GIST strategy is an approach to planning product development, with the purpose of reducing management overhead, increasing velocity, and creating products that truly meet the needs of the market.
The system is called GIST after its four main building blocks: Goals, Ideas, Step-projects, and Tasks. All the elements together create solid and comprehensive planning that any product company should have.
The main idea of GIST is to blend ideation, planning, and execution and create a goal-driven development by making sure that all ideas, projects, and tasks are leading to big-picture objectives.
Try GIST if you are stuck with planning waterfall and having an assumption-driven product roadmap.
Here's also an excellent article by Itamar Gilad describing how GIST works (9-minute read).
How to use the GIST planning process?
Remember that the GIST system stands for goals, ideas, step-projects, and tasks? To do proper planning and create a strategy that your product deserves, start with a goal, continue with ideas and projects, and end with specific tasks that will help turn the goal into reality.
Goals provide direction, motivation, and a clear way to measure the progress of the company. They describe the company strategy in terms of desired outcomes and answer several important questions: where we want to be, when do we want to be there, and how will we get there. Thus, goals should be specific, quantifiable, and with a clear deadline.
You can set Goals in the form of Objectives and Key Results (we even have a separate OKRs template for that) if you are already used to the concept.
Goals should be set for the long term and cover one or more years.
Ideas are hypothetical ways to achieve the strategic plan that you set at the previous step. Each goal is supported by as many ideas as you want (the more - the better though, as it increases the chances to get a positive result in the end. To get more ideas from different perspectives, have an initial brainstorming session for ideas in your team once you set the goals).
The idea collection and prioritization process works this way: all the ideas are collected in an Idea Bank table and then automatically prioritized using the ICE score. Things like impact, confidence, and ease are used for the current ICE scoring and should be filled in for each idea.
ICE is pre-built in your Fibery Idea bank table, but you can easily set up RICE, WSJF, or any other scoring system of your choice too.
Once the prioritization is complete, you put as many ideas as possible to the test in order of priority and that's when Step-projects come into play.
Don't forget that ideas are constantly collected and prioritized. You should never stop looking for new ideas, adding them to the board, and prioritizing them.
Already thinking that the highest-scoring idea from the previous step will be a game-changer and you should put all the efforts into it? Not necessarily, as it is still unproven. To beat such biases and save your company time and money, step-projects were created.
The main idea is to break the bigger project (represented by your glorious idea from the previous step) into small step-projects (experiments). How small? Execution of each experiment should not take longer than 10 weeks. If the first experiment is successful, you continue to work on its more complete and advanced version.
That's how you can test many more ideas in parallel with lower investment and with quicker learning. Ideas that show potential get further resources, and other ideas get out of the game.
Step-projects are picked up at the beginning of the quarter and then evaluated every one or two weeks.
Finally, each step-project is broken down into bite-sized activities - tasks that can be taken and finished off by members of your product development team as quickly as possible.
Tasks are usually set for one or two weeks ahead and can be reconsidered daily using the development method that your team is currently using, for example, Scrum sprint planning.
In short, goals define what your company wants to accomplish in the long term, they break down into ideas that are hypotheses that support the goals, and further break down into step-projects and tasks that contain the daily activities your team members are doing.
Why use the GIST template?
The GIST template by Fibery includes everything you need to use the GIST system. It covers and connects all the GIST components (goals, ideas, step-projects, and tasks) in just one template.
Eliminate building features or products just for the sake of building them. Focus on the “why” first and the “what,” “when” and “how” after that.
Align️ teams around common goals and keep the focus on business plan objectives. See progress, share context and collaborate easily with no integration to maintain (and no spreadsheets to update).
Link information and create connections. Never enter the same data twice.
Prioritize ideas effortlessly with an automatic scoring system. Spend way less time choosing and more time actually building.
Set up an ongoing experimentation process - the more ideas you test, the better are the chances of successful ones.
Break down large goals and ideas into smaller daily activities to optimize the allocation of your resources and ensure goal-driven development.
How to use the Fibery GIST Planning template?
From the start, you have 4 Databases: Goal, Idea, Step, and Task, same as the steps of the original GIST planning process. These 4 Databases can be visualized with boards, lists, timelines, tables, and more. You have a pre-made Goals timeline, Idea bank, Steps Kanban board, Steps by Quarter board, and Tasks Kanban board.
Define Goals on a Timeline. Remember to avoid solutions at this point and only describe desired outcomes. Expand the goal to add key results, description, or comments. Connected ideas and their state will automatically appear here too once you add them.
Collect hypotheses on how to achieve Goals in Idea Bank. Ideas are automatically prioritized based on impact, confidence, and ease. Everybody is welcome to contribute!
Break down the best Ideas into Steps. Each Step is an experiment that tests the idea.
Plan Steps by quarterand update their status on a Kanban board. Try to keep Steps short and execute them one at a time: prototype → MVP → beta → launch.
Break down Steps into bite-sized Tasks.
Move Tasks through a workflow on a Kanban board. It has pre-built "Open", "In progress" and "Done" states, but you can easily add more.
Complete everything with data.
Invite your team. Click Invite People link on the left to add more users.
Fibery is a fully adaptable no-code tool, so you can completely tailor everything (including the product planning process) to your needs. Take the template as a base and then tailor it to your team: remove what you don't need and add what is missing.
Only you know what works best for your organization, so feel free to change the work structure, visualize it differently, and completely rethink the workflow.
Here are some customizations ideas from fellow creators:
Goals → OKRs
To have a clear distinction between objectives and their success metrics, replace Goals with Objective → Key Results hierarchy using OKR template. Head to templates to install it if you don't have it already among your Spaces.
Connect Objectives with Ideas via a one-to-many relation.
Tasks → Development / Marketing / Custom Space
If you already use Spaces for the execution level, connect Steps to this Space and delete Tasks.
Adjust how your prioritization process works. Use RICE or WSJF instead of the initial ICE scoring: replace existing Fields in Idea Database and update the Formula.
Replace confidence 1-10 scale to a more advanced 0.01-10 one (please reach us via Intercom on how to do it).