Over the past ten years, I’ve led dozens of simulation-based workshops focused on executing strategy. I’ve learned much from the hundreds of students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned – and one universal truth – that is common among the many companies with whom I’ve worked, it’s that there are “more good ideas than resources available to pursue them.”
Prioritizing opportunities is fundamental to successful strategy execution. Over the years, our research, interviews and discussions with leaders at all levels, and interactions with workshop participants, have revealed a handful of best practices and tips to help leaders set priorities.
Prioritization – Best Practices and Tips
- Focus on what is most important. Have the discipline to say “no” to good ideas. Focus on fewer priorities to concentrate energy and resources on the most important activities.
- Prioritization is a dynamic activity – revisit priorities on a frequent basis. Markets and organizations shift and evolve – often rapidly. Continuously assess existing priorities for alignment and relevance.
- Actively communicate up. Keep senior management informed on the priorities you are managing. They may surprise you with new information and changes.
- Push back on requests from above – when appropriate. Just because requests come from above does not mean senior management has complete information. You are often closer to organizational realities and customer needs than they are.
- When “no” is not a possibility, sequence. When “no” is not an option and multiple priorities must be executed, recommend sequencing of activities.
- Recommend alternatives. Provide stakeholders with alternatives when priorities conflict. Provide supporting data, logic, alternative solutions and contingency plans.
- Have the courage to kill inactive or unsuccessful initiatives. When priorities and initiatives lie dormant, question how strategic they are. Have the discipline and courage to end-of-life them.
If you want to improve the prioritization skills of your employees, consider using an Insight Experience business simulation learning experience. Our simulations provide robust and realistic business challenges that require learners to apply and practice prioritization techniques and best practices to enable successful strategy execution.
Ned Wasniewski is a Managing Partner at Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich, immersive business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution.