Goals and Priorities

People who get little done often work a great deal harder. In the midst of tumultuous change, many managers are confusing “busywork” activity with results. They seem to live by the French Cavalry’s motto, “When in doubt, gallop” — so everything becomes urgent. They are constantly setting action plans and making lists of projects, goals, and priorities, but seldom are these followed through to completion.

A key component of providing focus to an organization calls for leaders to identify “strategic imperatives” or “must-do’s.” These are the team’s or organization’s critical leverage points. Strategic imperatives are those vital few (three to five) goals, priorities, and improvement targets that — when reached –blast the team or organization toward its vision, values, and purpose. These are cascaded throughout the organization with a disciplined goal deployment system.

Common Causes of Priority Overload:

  • Inflexible, long term strategic planning processes.
  • Disorganized, reactive managers with poor personal time management.
  • Weak goal deployment system with little follow through.
  • Lack of focus, discipline, and sacrifice.
  • No (or too infrequent) process for continuously resetting priorities.
  • Not clustering goals and priorities through Affinity, Pareto, or such tools.
  • A culture that rewards activities (like 24/7 availability and long hours) more than results.

Steps to a Goal Deployment System:

  • Agree upon three to five strategic (high leverage/impact) imperatives (do-or-die) for the planning cycle.
  • Establish management ownership/accountability (and teams) for each imperative.
  • Develop key measurements for each imperative.
  • Have every team at all levels develop their three to five imperatives and measures that flow directly from one or more of the strategic imperatives.
  • Set regular (e.g. monthly) review and follow-up meetings at all levels, and communicate the results broadly.
  • Start the next cycle by agreeing upon the three to five strategic imperatives for the next planning cycle.

For further reading on Goals and Priorities, click here.

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