Strategic Planning – Setting Priorities

When an organization has many issues to address and has decided on an approach for each issue, difficulty arises because of limited resources.  The group then must set priority among many possible actions in some way that is a group process. A technique I have used that follows from my analytic approach to strategic thinking.   The process works will well because it is analytic but leaves room for negotiation. 

The first step in the process is to decide on the criteria to be used for ranking the issues.  So lets assume that the following are the criteria chosen:

  • A champion is available
  • The probability of success is high
  • Resources are available
  • Rapid result possible
  • Fit with our vision

We then decide on the meaning of the rating of A, B, C, D, and E for each criteria.  For example for the criteria "Fit with our vision", A means excellent, B means very good, C means good, D means poor and E means no fit.   For each criteria we go through that exercise.  Usually involves lots of discussion. 

Next we list the initiatives down the left side of a chart and make a column for each criteria.  The group then rates each initiative with a letter grade.  Now we are ready to rank them.

First step is decide for each criteria whether there is a minimum rating an initiative must have.  Maybe with our Fit criteria we decide it must be "B" or better to stay on the list.  We do that for each criteria.  Again negotiation will occur within the group to protect ones favourite initiative.

After that step we can look at how many A’s, B’s etc each initiative has received.  Usually the rankings becomes obvious.

Having now decided on the high priority initiatives, a champion is assigned and charged with the task of coming up with an action plan that will achieve rapid results that will be reviewed regularly  by the group. 

This process builds a high degree of consensus and energy to get on with the initiatives.  I have found it a very successful technique in the face of the complex process of setting priority among many important initiatives.

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