Eliminate the Bottom, Push to the Top

The principles behind the right things, not everything are nearly identical for individuals and leaders; both individuals and teams make decisions about what they will do in a day, a week, a quarter, or a year. As an individual, I stare at my to-do list every day, trying to figure out the most important tasks that need to get done. As a leader, I stare at the list of projects and initiatives that align with my organization’s strategy, trying to figure out what to tackle next. It’s the same process, just on a different scale.

After leading a fairly large group of people who were working on disparate projects, I finally gave up on the idealistic notion that there is an absolute ranking of importance for every goal. First, we rarely have the opportunity to consider all of our options at the same time. Opportunities trickle in over time, and we have to make case-by-case decisions about whether we will accept any one of them; we can never know what other opportunities might pop up tomorrow, or next year. For example, I love speaking at conferences, and get a lot of offers to do so. However, these opportunities are offered at unexpected times, so saying yes to one might preclude my saying yes to another that might be offered in the future. Second, we rarely know with certainty what the impact of any project will be. We have to make a lot of guesses and estimations. Prioritization is, at best, a messy bet, and it changes over time.

As a result, the ...

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