The Art and Science of Prioritizing Projects
In business, there’s always going to be a million and one things you can do with your time. Many of these things could seem important today, but in retrospect won’t seem all that important after all. Learning to prioritize projects and only spend time on things that’ll have a real impact on your bottom line is a crucial skill.
==> The Golden Question
The golden question you should ask yourself is this: “How will this project impact this company in six months?”
There are many projects that could seem important today, but really won’t have much of an impact on your company in the long run. For example, trying to chase down one particular sale because you need to meet a sales quota probably isn’t going to make a long term impact.
On the other hand, there are projects that won’t seem to make much impact now, but could have a profound impact on your company in the future.
For example, setting up an autoresponder system and a rock solid followup system probably won’t pay off in the beginning. It takes a ton of effort and the sales won’t justify the time spent right now.
However, you know that in order to take the company to the level you want it to be in 6 months, you need a followup system. In this case, it absolutely makes sense to build this system today.
==> Firefighting vs. Opportunity Seeking
When Phillip Morris, the cigarette company decided to expand overseas, they put their #1 manager on the case. For the manager, it seemed to be a huge demotion – He went from a high level position to managing less than 1% of the company.
In just a couple years however, the overseas branch of the company became one of the most important parts of the company. There were a lot of problems that this manager could have helped solve, but Phillip Morris decided to put him on their biggest opportunity instead.
This illustrates a key point: Focus on opportunities and put your best people on opportunities rather than on firefighting.
There are always going to be projects that seem urgent. There are always going to be problems that need to be solved “right now.”
The challenge for a great prioritizer is knowing when to put these fires on the backburner and instead focus on opportunity. If you can’t do this, it’ll be very tough to grow.
==> Prioritize Leverage Projects
Projects that help you achieve other projects better should be prioritized. These include projects that improve internal systems so you can get more done, educational systems so people can do their jobs better and purchasing new equipment.
These rules of thumb will help you prioritize projects so do what’ll really help take your company to the next level. Do projects that help you grow in the long run, focus on opportunities rather than fires and prioritize leverage-building projects.