Not all important things are created equally. When it comes to prioritization, some things are more important than others.
You will be frustrated, discouraged, and ineffective if you try to do everything all at once.
How can you ensure that you and your team are optimizing your time and getting the right things done every day?
One of the simplest yet hardest things to do is to stay focused on your real priorities. With all of the known and emerging demands on your time, how do you know you’re getting the most important things done?
“Stay focused on your real priorities” – Click to tweet
Asking 3 simple questions throughout your day (and your week, month, and quarter) will bring focus and clarity. Below are three questions around prioritization one of my favorite leaders used to challenge our 1,100 member team at webMethods to achieve our corporate goals.
1. What problem are we solving for our customers?
Put the focus on what your business is all about: the people and companies you want to help. Can you articulate the problem you want to solve? Do you know enough about your customers’ problems? Is what you’re doing helping to solve their problem and adding value and benefits to them?
2. Where’s the leverage?
How does this relate to every other objective and activity your company does? How does it intersect with other priorities, and its resources? How does this connect to and advance the core goals of the company? How can it be used in alignment with internal and external partners?
This question addressed a problem of focus we had as our company rapidly grew. Our goal was clear: to enable global corporations to integrate their business systems and processes with their trading partners. Yet other customers, including startups that did not fit this profile, found value in our product suite as well. As a young company, we needed to win global companies with sustainable, multi-year projects. Winning unproven startups did not support our core objective, and there was no leverage in doing so.
Our webMethods team had a perfect example of this – a startup called BabyGorilla.com. I don’t even remember what it did (the domain is now owned by an artist in Chicago, whom I’ve never met). At the time, it was another of those curious Internet Bubble startups with a clever name but no market share, and no one really knew what it did. Although the company was willing to pay for our products, it was not in our target market and was not leveragable. Ultimately, it wasn’t worth the team’s investment of time and effort.
Another way of asking how to leverage is to ask: “How many customers have this problem?”
Where are intersections with our current customers or partners? Does this activity move us forward toward achieving our objectives, or is it a diversion?
3. How do we measure this?
What gets measured, gets done. When you are thinking about how to prioritize your day, week, and month, setting quantifiable goals gives you incredible focus and clarity. It doesn’t mean rigid legalism. Having quantifiable goals actually gives you freedom and clarity in making yes or no decisions more quickly. It takes you from the theoretical to the practical.
Can you break down the idea and quantify what it means in terms of achieving your objectives now or in the future?
It matters to quantify – your investors, employees, and stakeholders need to have information about your company in this context. It also helps you and your team to see how far you’ve come, how far you need to go, and if you need to recalibrate. Just about anything can be measured in a quantifiable goal.
Asking these questions will give you the clarity to prioritize and make decisions that benefit you, your team, and your customers.