Archives for Priority Conversations

The debilitating effects of ‘update-itis’

It’s the scourge of most boardrooms. A virulent and disabling disease that paralyses real progress in organisations. The symptoms are all too familiar. The team gets together for its regular meeting. Hearts are already heavy from seeing the agenda – which is a terrifyingly long list of updates from departments and projects. Each presents the prospect of a long, rambling and often purposeless input from a member of the team – during which most of the rest of the team will switch off. There’s also a clear heirarchy. Finance always comes first and takes longer than it should. Everyone then
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The Prioritisation Conundrum – Part 3

Staying sane and productive in an overloaded world In the last two issues, I talked about prioritisation. In May, I described the four most widely accepted approaches to prioritisation and explained why each tends to fail. In June, I described a different approach which overcomes these problems. But what do you do when you can’t do any more to reduce the workload? How do you keep yourself and those around you from getting so overloaded that the work you do is compromised – or, worse still, that your heath suffers? In short, how do you cope better when all options for reducing the load have been exhausted?
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The Prioritisation Conundrum – Part 2

Four approaches, no solutions… In the last issue, I described the four most widely accepted approaches to prioritisation – together with why each tends to fail: 1.  The strategy approach Stands aside from the organisation and decides the most important things that have to be done. (But almost always tends to exacerbate overload by adding new priorities to what’s already going on). 2.  The sorting approach Lists all of the things that are currently happening, then consolidates and organises them. (But tends to simply aggregate things together into ‘mega priorities’ and fails to remove much from the list.) 3.  The time management
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The Prioritisation Conundrum – Part 1

Are we all going mad?   There are a few things that leaders I meet always tell me. One of them goes something like this:  “We’re just trying to do too much at once. Each initiative makes perfect sense in isolation, but, when you take them all together, there’s just far too much. As a result, the things we are trying to do are going too slowly, quality is compromised and we rarely complete things properly or embed them fully. That means our results aren’t nearly as good as they could and should be.” What they also say (although often only privately) is:
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Are you and your people focussed on the right future?

  What does success look like? There’s a huge amount of psychological research which shows how humans perform better with a clear and compelling picture of what they are trying to achieve. In my experience, however, most leaders give far more attention to ‘clear’ and much less to ‘compelling’. Even worse, in their efforts to serve many different purposes, the terminology introduces complexity and confusion which actively reduce performance. Unravelling this is made more difficult by the fact that each organisation (and sometimes each person) use the many terms in different ways. In describing the terms below, therefore, my intention
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Balanced Scorecard Report

To give your strategy a fighting chance of success, you must be able to do two things supremely well: prioritize strategic initiatives and integrate them for maximum impact. However, both of these tasks—in even the best-run organizations—more often than not prove inherently difficult and frustrating.
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How do you get your team pulling in the same direction?

Focus is the price of excellence A former colleague of mine was fond of repeating this at every available opportunity. It may be a little trite but it is also true. Whether you are talking about individual high achievers, teams or whole organisations – one thing that is true of them all is a relentless (even obsessive) focus on a few, critical things. Repetition, dedication, energy, persistence and determination are all brought to bear on a narrow set of priorities – so it is not surprising that capability then grows and performance improves. When I was setting up in business
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How to get your team and organisation pulling in the same direction

Aligning your team and organisation Have you ever stopped to consider what ‘money’ really is? Is it pieces of shaped metal, ink on paper or, increasingly, a series of ones and zeros stored on wafers of silicon? Actually, money is better defined by what we understand it to mean to us. That makes more sense, but if that’s true then the single word money means lots of different things:- To a business leader, it may mean the ultimate arbiter of organisational success. To a beleaguered politician, it may mean a scarce resource to be fought for at budgeting time. To
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