Priority identification was certainly important prior to the pandemic. Today, getting crystal clear about work priorities it’s critical. There is so much change to juggle, navigate, adjust…you name it. No matter the project or challenge, if your job requires you to zero in on the most relevant data or factors within the data, create priorities, and then execute on them, you will need to first sort through the noise and get to the core issues or challenges. These days, you need to sort even faster and more effectively than ever before. Think of it as being a bit like the ‘sorting hat’ in the Harry Potter stories; these four ‘buckets’ will give you a place for everything and help you get everything in its right place: Fat Rabbits, Quick Wins, Rocks, and Who Cares.
You know what Fat Rabbits vs. Rabbits looks like, and seeing one in the forest might even make you smile! These are the parts of the challenge that are foundational, have the highest/fattest impact, and must be in place to succeed at executing on your goal. These are the big fat chunks of your challenge that need to be addressed or nothing else will matter or work.
Quick Wins are those parts of your challenge that require minimal effort with maximum payoff. They demonstrate tangible, visible progress. Getting them done quickly and making them public to the appropriate stakeholders, significantly boosts momentum. Too many people think they have to get the Fat rabbits well underway or completed before going for any Quick Wins. Not so. Ignoring quick wins often results in slow wins or no wins.
Then there are the Rocks. These are tough blocks on the road to your completion of a successful challenge. These rocks need to be identified without denial or wishful thinking or excuses. Pretending they aren’t there won’t make them go away. They are what they are. Sometimes Rocks are pebble-like, and sometimes they are more like Mt. Rushmore. Solutions may not be known immediately, and that’s ok. However, you won’t move forward without moving at least some of the Rocks out of the way or navigating a way around them. If the Rocks are too formidable, reconsider the challenge – is it the right challenge at the right time? Moving Rocks requires a lot of effort and energy, so you need it really be worth it so there is a payoff.
Finally, we come to the Who Cares bucket. These might be interesting things, but no action is needed, and they could easily become a distraction. It’s important to identify the Who Cares items so your valuable time and energy are not wasted in places that do not matter much in the big picture, or won’t materially affect the outcome, and definitely ignore those things that no one really cares about – at least for now.
Let’s take a timely challenge through a bucket exercise: Succession Planning Example. Because of the demographics of our workforce today (during or after the pandemic), this is a timely example for most organizations and will continue to be for years to come.
Example: Succession Planning
• Define the workforce realities with indisputable facts and create the ‘burning platform’ of urgency
• Develop intentional retention strategies
• Identify current competencies and compare with needed next-generation competencies
• Align all HR/OD functions: recruitment, hiring, on-boarding, experiential and classroom training/development, performance management, and rewards to meet forecasted job content and design
• Identify and develop high potentials for career development where you know of or expect gaps
• Explore best-practice succession planning models and applicability to your organization
• Learn why people come to work in your organization, why they stay, and why they leave
• Identify key positions to target for succession planning
• Analyze internal/external labor demographics/pipelines
• Share current informal succession planning efforts underway.
• A decentralized vs. centralized (or vice versa) organizational model conflicts with your goals
• IT Systems are insufficient to collect enough accurate data
• Offices may need to be renovated when people leave, impacting the budget (lots of things impact the budget – it’s off-topic or low priority)
When you focus on the things that truly matter, you’ll make progress. When you focus on the things that don’t, you won’t. Make sure your Rocks are not show stoppers, then go for a few very visible and happy Quick Wins as you work on addressing your Fat Rabbits and ignoring your Who Cares!