Juggling priorities? Consider 5 perspectives.

December 28, 2017

Revised version of the post first published in July 2014.

Competing priorities is a tough challenge for most organizations.

Why you need inputs 5 perspectives

“Competing priorities” has been at the top of the list of “obstacles that hold us back” for several years in my annual studies. How to get around it? A digital workplace has 5 types of stakeholders, each with a unique perspective complementary to the others. Taking the time to investigate these 5 perspectives will help you see more clearly and formulate priority statements founded on evidence.

The 5 perspectives:

  • People as individuals (throughout the workforce)
  • Business, operational and customer-facing workforces
  • Management
  • Enterprise/group communities and shared services
  • External customers (or users / citizens) served by the organization

You need input from all 5 groups. Without this, your view will be partial.

You may think you already know what is needed, but I guarantee that if you consult with all 5 of these groups, you will have some surprises – some good, some not so good. However, consulting with them is not sufficient. They must be involved beyond discovery,  in the thinking and prioritizing phases as well – to some extent.

Setting priorities based on evidence

The chart below suggests techniques to use when dealing with each perspective.  Depending on your context, you will need to decide how deep a dive you take for each group.

Be careful not to fall into analysis paralysis, but take the time to include each perspective –  lightly or deeply.

Above all, this process will let you identify and explain priorities so that, regardless of the final decisions about where to invest resources, you will know that you took a full look around and made decisions based on evidence.

The surprise benefit is that you will be gaining the support of many people throughout the organization as you carry out the discovery phase.

Your initiative will end up being carried by many people throughout the organization.

It is more likely that your digital workplace, as it evolves, will be sustainable and will trigger positive change in your organization.

How to get input from 5 perspectives

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Rob Gilfoyle

Thank you, Jane, for this interesting and useful approach.
The following question could be asked of all five stakeholder groups using a digital communication channel, or face-to-face if time and other resources permitted.
‘Given our Mission to …, and our Vision to become …, what do you think should be the organization’s top three, most critical priorities for the next eighteen months, to two years and why?’
It would be interesting to see the degree of correlation in viewpoints amongst the five groups, given the different perspectives that they have.
If you used ESN software to send out the question and collect the answers, you could even do some quantitative analysis of the inputs.
It would also be valuable to communicate the results of the analysis and the subsequent decision informed by it, to all five stakeholder groups.
Used as part of a change management strategy, this communication initiative could create some clarity about the way forward, and why the particular path forward selected makes the most sense of the many options available.
It might be useful to include a very brief, bullet-point format, overview of the major elements of the existing strategy, when the question is sent out to the stakeholders.