Prioritizing for success

We would like to have enough hands to do everything, deal with everything, but we simply can’t handle it all! That is also true for a company, especially when facing a change in direction. Growth is exciting, but it comes with its own set of challenges.
It’s simple math: If you have 100 things to do as many employees to do them but you only have 80 available, you’re not going to make it. Worse, by trying to do everything, you may be spreading yourself too thin and end up completing nothing. Rather than being positive, this could be draining and demoralizing for your teams. Furthermore, any success you do achieve may be more due to good luck than good planning.

The solution we all refuse to accept is simply to prioritize. Prioritizing is often equated with eliminating the things that are less important and less urgent. That’s a valid approach and a good place to start. But in the life of an entrepreneur with limited resources or a company in transformation, we must go a step farther and separate the essential from the desirable, sometimes even sacrificing good ideas in the process.
While this is complicated, remember that proper prioritization will help you protect that which is essential to your company’s growth.

Here are a few steps to get you there:

  • List all projects under way: If it is not an ongoing activity, it takes time or money and it has a completion date, it’s probably a project.
  • Review the list: Validate the list of projects with your teams. You’ll be surprised to find that there are more projects than you thought.
  • When you think you’ve completed the list, check it one last time. Take the time to fully understand each project, how much it costs, and how it will contribute to the objectives. In short, is it worth the effort invested to the detriment of something else?
  • Put someone in charge of tracking and updating the list.
  • Establish a structure for the regular review and prioritization of the list. In real life, subject to the challenges and constraints of everyday life, the list is apt to change often.

There is no perfect formula. Nevertheless, once you know exactly what projects your team is working on and you’ve put in place the tools and tracking, you will have a better idea of the size of the task ahead. That, in turn, will allow you to assess your real ability to handle it, and will increase your chances of success.

While Aesop’s tortoise teaches us that “Slow and steady wins the race”, it’s also worth remembering that “Rome was not built in a day”.

Sophie Legendre
Senior Director
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