The strategy conversation you can only have here
Neither the Oxford Dictionary of English nor the New Oxford American Dictionary include the word ‘priorities’.
That is because the word sits alongside corporate doublespeak such as next level, scalable and leverage. All are futile attempts to improve a business through language rather than coherence.
A priority on the other hand is the one thing that takes precedence over all others. There is only one. To have multiple items all taking precedence over a bunch of other items quickly becomes mush and meaningless.
The point of having a priority is about making a choice, pushing aside the unimportant and elevating the one item that is the most pressing. To have one priority (we shouldn’t even need to say ‘one’) means everything else is not a priority, for now.
A priority is always for a specific period of time. A day, a week, a month, this year or some bespoke period that we decide.
With only one priority in mind for a period, we reduce brain fog and the type of language inertia that slows business progress. Decisions about tradeoffs become easy because there is always one most important consideration, is the priority on track?
This works for your team, for yourself or the whole company. It works for the five year strategy, the quarterly plan or your personal agenda for the day.
What about the other important items?
Keep them all on a list, each is a ‘priority-to-be’. They can each have their own special time when they shine and be your single priority.
One priority for now.
Other items will have their turn, just not now.