Execution Excellence: the Changing Role of the CSO, CXO & PMO
Clarify ‘the Why?’
Execution Excellence: the Changing Role of the CSO, CXO & PMO
Clarify ‘the Why?’
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Changing Priorities: Getting Clarity & Alignment in Under an Hour

As the following reveals, it is amazing what can be achieved in under an hour (this was a team that was familiar with working with such intensity). Also, how a blind spot can be tackled in new ways.

As you read this client story, reflect on the questions answered by the team – how confidently do you feel you could answer the same questions for your business unit or team?

A word of caution: It would be crazy to suggest that major strategic issues can be resolved in 60–90 minutes. That is not the message here. What this example does show, however, is that reviewing priorities can be high-speed and high energy too. Using the right process and the right tools, teams can get clarity and alignment with surprising speed.

Q: Can we agree on the Top 5?

Ahead of the workout, the team leader nominated the Top 5 priorities – those most closely linked to success.  The team agreed, being 90% confident in the Top 5. That was the first of 6 steps/exercises to be completed within the hour.

Q: Are all the priorities well understood?

Knowledge and understanding of 3 of the 5 was rated at 90% or above. But, two were rated at between 50% and 70% in terms of knowledge and familiarity.  Fleshing them out would require more work.

Q: What is the order of the top 5?

The team ranked the top 5 priorities in terms of their importance to success.  Some surprises emerged. There are clear priorities within the Top 5.

The order of importance has shifted to reflect changing business needs and priorities. A recent request from the CEO topped the list, as priority number one. 

Q: Are our priorities really a priority?

The team was spending on average 37% of its time on the top 5 Priorities, but it wants to spend 50%. Clearly, executive time was a scarce resource.

Q: What is the level of confidence in delivering on the Top 5?

Confidence in 3 of the Top 5 priorities was rated as high or very high.  But for two of the priorities, confidence was rated at between 55 and 65%. Key factors that hindered confidence included resource allocation, factors outside the team's control, clarity of scope and tight deadlines.

Q: What is the level of ambition behind the Top 5?

All the Top 5 priorities were rated as highly ambitious. This prompted one of the leaders to say, ‘maybe we have our heads in the clouds'.  Another added, ‘we have little discretion here — this is expected from us'.

Q: Do any of the priorities require attention?

Two of the Top 5 priorities were identified as requiring attention.  In particular, clarifying the scope of the number one priority was considered urgent.

Q: When should priorities be reviewed again?

There was a consensus that priorities should again be reviewed before the end of the quarter.

Q: What did the process reveal about the team and its work?

Here are some of the reflections (within the team) based on the workout:

  • There is a lot of progress being made. There is a lot to be proud of as a team.
  • We are under a lot of pressure to deliver.  We cannot get distracted or take on any more (unless something comes off)!
  • There is a lot of change happening across the organization, at the same time we cannot get distracted from our key strategic work — these 6 priorities
  • We are aligned as a team. We are clear on our priorities.
  • We are not getting to spend enough time on our key priorities – the day to day is keeping us very busy. This could become a barrier to success.
  • We are sometimes reacting to stakeholders, finding it difficult to say ‘no’ or ‘not now’
  • Perhaps we are being too ambitious – given that all our top 5 priorities are highly ambitious. Maybe some of these priorities are ambitious for our organization, but would some of our competitors consider them to be equally ambitious?
  • Perhaps we need to re-calibrate confidence levels – two of the priorities are below 66%.
  • There are many factors that are outside the control of the team. This adds to the importance of staying focused on our key priorities.
  • We can be open and honest about the challenges we face – it is not just all good news.  Talking about risk is important for this team.
  • Priorities must be prioritized, re-prioritized & de-prioritized on an ongoing basis. It is like going to the gym, this has to be something you do regularly.

Pause for a moment to reflect: How confidently could you answer these questions for your business unit or team? If you would like to find out, talk to us.

SOLUTIONS & SERVICES: Here are some of the ways that our research & insights are put to work by our clients:

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