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Friday, July 22, 2011


OK, what is with the title?  Everyone knows how to set priorities.  If this is true for you, read no further, what I will say likely will not mean much anyway.  But in a previous post, I spent time discussing project planning and the need for this in a company.   Developing timelines is critical and putting all the steps/events on the timeline is required if you want to manage the program and get to the proper endpoint in a timely manner.  But sometimes there is more than one activity that must take place immediately while others can wait, yet they are at the same point on the timeline.  Setting the correct priorities is important for every entrepreneur whether you are the Chief Technology Officer, Chief Executive Officer, or any of the other management positions.

The ability to set priorities is not always easy or desired by the manager.  Sometimes, activities of greater interest, when overlaid, are distractive and can cause selection of something other than the true priority.  Take a simple list of activities: fix dinner, pick up the kids, send a letter for a job, go to the mail box, and pay bills.  Seems simple enough, but what if you realize fixing dinner required a trip to the store to buy food.  You remember the car is in the repair shop, but you cannot pick up the car without paying the repair bill. Your paycheck has not arrived and there is not enough funds to pay the repair bill, but it may be in today’s mail.  By the way, the kids can walk home. The school is only two blocks away and the kids know the car is in the shop.  Your priorities might be to pick up the mail and get your check, deposit it, pick up the car, stop by the grocery on the way back, and finally make dinner as long as the kids made it home. Other items can wait.  If any of the parameters changed, you are likely going to adjust your schedule to match the priorities.

Your ability to determine the priorities and put them in order is essential.  It is also important that you be able to make adjustments that allow for adaptation to related changes in events.  When you prepare timelines consider establishing contingency plans for possible events that can require adjustments.  Such planning allows for a better establishment and maintenance of your priority list.  You will be better able to shift workloads accordingly to obtain the proper results.

Not everyone is good at seeing the future or guessing “what ifs”.  But, you can discuss this with your team.  Collectively, you may find it easier to better plan with your team’s input.  The key is to set the proper priorities in order to ensure the most important tasks are completed first, second and so on.  Monitor the events. If things change be prepared to make adjustments. 

  Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon