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What Are Your Career MoSCoWs?

Written by: Lily Woi, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


MoSCoWs? What’s that?!

It’s a commonly used prioritisation technique in business analysis and software development to understand the importance of each requirement and manage what gets the most attention first.

The term is an acronym that stands for

M - Must-Have;

S - Should-Have;

C - Could-Have; and

W - Won’t-Have.

You can also spice it up and change the W to Wish-For.

The Os do not stand for anything. They’re just there to make the word pronounceable!

When I first came across this technique, I was impressed by its ability to keep everyone focused on the desired outcome and surfaced any misunderstanding early on as it front-loaded a lot of the discussions that we don’t tend to have until later on in the process.

It got me thinking about how I could start using this in other parts of my life and career that needed a bit more clarity.

With a bit of trial and error and a few small tweaks, I started using it in my career planning. I’ve now expanded it and used it with my clients with much success!

It’s often a challenge to visualise your career vision because the sky is the limit. A lot of people struggle with getting started and draw a blank.

So before you start visualising and solidifying your career vision. I invite you to start building your career blueprint first by looking at yourself and your situation as it is now using MoSCoW.

This process helps you to create your ideal future and forms your target. It is a less daunting way to help you understand what you want out of your career!

Let’s break it down into its individual components.


These are the non-negotiables needs that are mandatory for you. These cannot be comprised. For example, you require flexible working so you’re able to do your school runs.


These are important needs that are not vital but add significant value. The difference here is that these can be absent from your career FOR NOW but you’ll want to work towards achieving it. For example, this could be your desired salary.


These are your ‘nice to have’ but will have a small impact if you don’t get it. For example, this could be certain benefits such as travel subsidies.


These are the things you won’t accept and do not want. For example, this could be being in the office 5 days a week.

The examples I provided are simple and straightforward to give you an idea of what it could look like. Of course, your situations would be more nuanced than the examples I shared.

Most people struggle with categorising their Must-Haves and Should-Haves.

If you’re unsure which category your items should be in, ask yourself these questions:

  • What happens if I don’t have this in my work?

  • Will I be happy or excited about going to work?

And these are the questions that you need to answer for yourself. Don’t compare it to others as what’s important to them won’t be the same for you.

Lastly, make it fun. It doesn’t need to be a boring tick box exercise. You can also do this over a couple of sittings in different environments to spark your creativity juice!

The outcome of this exercise is about giving you direction. The process of building your career blueprint forces you to make decisions and really weigh up what’s important and absolutely fundamental for you rather than diverting energy into things that are just nice to have.

It is challenging but incredibly rewarding.

Give it a try. It might change your career trajectory. It certainly did for me!

Follow me on LinkedIn, or visit my website for more info!


Lily Woi, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lily Woi is a professionally trained coach and an expert in helping individuals to accelerate their career progression and develop authentic leadership capabilities. She has spent years working in corporate consultancy training and advising clients to deliver multimillion transformation programs before starting her career coaching business (Lily Woi Coaching). She develops current and future leaders to be self-directed, resilient to change, grow their presence and build authentic leadership styles that motivate and inspire others. She is known for her personalized approach, tailoring content to individuals' learning preferences and work experiences to instill real practical change in an enjoyable way.



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