Posted in Leadership

Priority Filter and Consequences

It’s been 28 weeks since I’ve published a blog. Am I a slacker? Just busy? Am I working in the tyranny of the urgent? Allowing others to transpose their priorities on me? Or is this where my prioritization process lead me?

What project have you deprioritized lately? And for what reason?

What’s the “unfinished blog” on the corner of your desk? What’s the email lurking at the bottom of your inbox that requires some attention?

Daily if not hourly we’re intentionally and sometimes unintentionally making priority decisions related to work projects. So, in an effort to provide “practical takeaways for everyday church leadership” I thought I’d provide some of the filters I (try to) use. Look, things will get set aside. Their prioritization will decrease, but it’s important that there’s some intentionality to this.

4 Priority Filter Questions

  1. Related to my work, is this a must do? Litmus test: I don’t do this work, I lose my job. Or things break. Or at a minimum I keep people from doing their jobs. If these could be true, the work is a “must do” and should remain a high priority.
  2. Am I called or convicted by God to do this? You could respond “no” to question one, and yet “yes” to question two which makes it a must do. For those who follow Jesus, and for those whose work involves church leadership, your priorities may not make sense outside of a spiritual realm, yet, if we’re called to do something or convicted, then it should be our highest priority.
  3. What’s the collateral damage if this is delayed? You may determine from question one it’s not a “must do,” that things aren’t going to break because it’s not done. Yet, a thoughtful effort of considering what will happen if it’s delayed. There’s likely some consequence, but how big is what takes measuring. As a leader one of our jobs is to make value judgments. In leadership, your priorities create or bog down others priorities pathways. Probably once a week I will ask someone I work with, “if X doesn’t happen, what’s the collateral damage to you or your team?”
  4. Is this really still important to me? My wiring is such that I like to finish things. If I set a goal, I really want to complete it. Yet things change. And what was important to me six months ago when I was planning my work goals may no longer be important (to me or my church). You’ve got to give yourself freedom to abandon goals when in light of current circumstances they no longer merit your highest attention. What’s one thing you’re plodding away on that really made sense even two months ago, but now you should really just “cut bait” and move to the next priority?

Consequences of Unintentional Prioritization

  • You’ll work really hard, but not move the needle – you’ll fill up your work with non-strategic work.
  • You’ll be the poster child for being the “tyranny of the urgent guy/gal.” You’ll move from project to project and only do what you “feel” up to (or even worse, what someone else feels for you).
  • You’ll do others’ bidding but not what you’re uniquely equipped to do (or even compensated to do).

Whether you wrestle down your projects, let them slide, and jettison them, be thoughtful about how you make those decisions

p.s. for those who care…Regarding my blogging and its prioritization…weekly blogging didn’t remain a priority when I reviewed questions 1-3 above. I knew ministry work at Brentwood Baptist was not going to be halted because I stopped writing. I didn’t feel like I was ignoring a calling or conviction from God. And no one’s work lives were messed up because they don’t get a weekly Dodridge download. But question four, yes, it was important to me. It just wasn’t as important as other things at the time. But now, I’m raising its priority again, and I hope from time to time, reading the blog lands somewhere on your weekly priority list.

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Free On-Site Training & Coaching for Your Church

In the first quarter of 2017, I’m calendaring an in-person consulting time for a church. I will do these at zero cost* for the church I select (I’m grateful for serving a church who wants to serve other churches and allows for this).

If you’re interested for your church…

Consider  the “practical takeaways for everyday church leadership” topics I’ve blogged about at Brian Dodridge.com, and if you feel I may helpful to you as a church leader, to your leadership team, or perhaps to a larger group within your church—I’d be honored to consider a day long or day and half long trip to your church.

My selection of the churches to consult will be based on:

  • Your preferred date of consulting time working on my calendar
  • My assessment of whether I can be of help to you in your ministry context
  • Perhaps geography (I’m open to long U.S. travel if I believe it’s a good use of time)
  • And there will be preference given to those who subscribe to my weekly blog

 

If you’d like to submit a request that would occur January-April in 2017, email me and respond to the following:

Who: (church/organization and website if you have one)
What: (preferred topic[s])
When: preferred dates
Where: (geographically)
Why: (Why you feel you could use the help/outside perspective—just an idea is fine, it doesn’t need to be lengthy)

I’ll follow-up with all who submit a request within three weeks.

*If I agree to serve you in this way, there will be no financial cost to you, nor will it be accepted.

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A Simple Tool for Measuring Idea Support

How do you know when your idea is gaining consensus within the group? In groups, there are usually two kinds of people – those who express their thoughts without prompting, and those who rarely express their thoughts.  If you’re not careful, you’ll allow those who do speak to speak on behalf of those who don’t, and you may start believing that the ideas of those who spoke up are reflective of the whole group.

And then there are times when most everyone speaks up. You exchange ideas and opinions about a new idea or initiative and yet, you can’t quite determine where the group is with it. For it? Against it? Indifferent?

When I arrived at Brentwood Baptist Church the church’s senior leadership team used a simple tool to quickly ascertain how a group felt about an idea. By simply holding up a finger to represent a number on a scale, you could get a snapshot of how the group felt about an idea.

In our case, Jim Baker would scribble the following words on the white board:

Love it – 5

Like it – 4

Live with it – 3

Leary of it – 2

Loathe it – 1

Then all at the same time, each individual in the meeting would hold up their hand and represent their feeling about the idea with a certain number of fingers. We’d total the group’s finger count, divide by the number of those voting, and get a snapshot of support for the idea.

The vote average will come out 3.7 or 2.1, or some days, 4.9. (This is usually when we ask questions like, “Are you in favor of adding vacation days for our staff?”)

I use this tool from time to time in meetings I lead, and when I do, it can usually tell me if…

  • The idea already has traction
  • The idea is going to require more talk, work, and support gaining
  • The idea is Dead On Arrival

I’ve written before about the importance of you as a meeting leader establishing whether you’re looking for consensus or simply asking for input. If you employ this voting tool, I suggest you let your group know how and why you’re using their votes. (You can read the consensus blog here.)

It’s a simple tool that’ll allow you real-time results during a meeting to gauge how far along an idea or concept is from getting instituted or going away.

I hope this blog post gets a 3+.

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