Linda Goldstein Consulting

Prioritize Prioritizing

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A friend who owns a small business complained to me recently that her company didn’t achieve all its goals this year.

“We’re a startup so everything is a priority,” she said. “It’s just total chaos trying to deal with so much.”

This is an annual ritual with her: Establish lots of goals at the beginning of the year; complain that there were too many competing priorities at the end of the year.

Sound familiar?

The old “competing priorities” frustrates many business leaders.

I get it. But I don’t buy it.

Most business leaders, including my friend, establish a big, messy, unorganized pile of goals, without prioritizing them.

Then they dabble in a little bit of everything without focusing first on what is most important. By definition, “prioritizing” defines what is most important.

Whether you lead an organization, community, or board, nothing significant gets done if you don’t prioritize. Without priorities, goals and initiatives trigger chaos, not progress.

How do you prioritize when everything seems like a priority?

  1. Begin with a clear vision of what success looks like:It’s important to start with a vision, then set goals and work to achieve them. As Yogi Berra once said “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”

  2. Force rank goals:Let’s face it, “everything” is not a priority. A goal that addresses a threat to your organization’s mission or existence takes priority. The former retailer Blockbuster Video either didn’t perceive streaming as a threat to their business model… or they didn’t prioritize jumping on the streaming bandwagon.

  3. Break down goals into strategies to achieve them:BHAG’s (Big hairy audacious goals) can be daunting. Break down your goals into a series of smaller action steps with reasonable timelines.

  4. Review last year’s goals to help position you for success this year:If you set goals last year, take a look at what worked, what didn’t, and why. If you were successful, how can you repeat that? If you didn’t achieve your goal, what got in the way and how can you avoid it this year?

Everyone has too much on their plate. Plan to get things done this year by staying focused on your vision and disciplined about working towards your goals.

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