Do you know the secret formula for prioritizing all the things?

It’s a plague. A communicable disease. You walk into a meeting with a full schedule, and you walk out with an additional buffet of projects.

Everybody wants all the things.

How do you prioritize all the things?

What if I told you there was a secret formula passed down from mystic monks long ago? Monks who scaled the side of a mountain, contemplated the limitations of time, scribed an inspired formula, and crossed the crystal sea to share it with the world.

Of course, there is no such monk, or formula. There is only the mountain in front of you and the sea of projects you are forced to navigate.

But, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Often, the most powerful principles come from concepts unrelated to the one we are working on in the moment. Today’s concept is borrowed from an important stage of A/B testing in the realm of digital marketing.

If you have ever done A/B or multivariate testing, you would find this same dilemma. In the vastness of your website, you identify dozens of things you would like to test. Bigger buttons. Bigger pictures. Adding videos. Removing videos. The position of your lead form. Ease of your check-out process. The difference a call to action makes on abandonment.

You can’t possibly test them all today. The pain in the ask is, should you test them at all?

In your context, the pain in the ask is, should you do all the things?

What if you knew a simple way to sit in that meeting and guide the discussion. And, what if it boiled down to two simple questions: How much impact will this activity have on our key performance? How much effort will it require?

In a meeting, the conversation might look something like this.

Colleague: Ryan, I think we should go back and put QR codes on all of our print materials.

Me: That’s an interesting thought. If we spend time on that, would you say it will have a high, medium or low impact on sales?

Colleague: Well… I don’t know that it will have any direct impact. But, it’s really something we would like to do.

Me: Thank you for your honesty. We really work to prioritize projects by the impact they will make, and that information is incredibly helpful.

If the idea in question was something that had the potential for medium or high impact, we might begin a secondary discussion.

Me: That certainly sounds like something worth doing. Describe to me the effort that would be required to make it happen.

Colleague: Well… it would take quite a bit of work. We have 3 offices that need to coordinate. It would also require changes in billing and in our supply chain.

At this point, we have answered the two most important questions: difficulty and effort.

We would follow this same exercise for all to-dos, internal and external to our work units. Then, we would order the tasks by highest impact and least effort, highest impact and highest effort, least impact and least effort and finally least impact and highest effort. If time is extremely limited, we might nix that final cluster altogether.

Suddenly, all becomes clear.

It is amazing how easily understandable this is to almost everyone. You look like the monk who climbed the mountain and scribed the secret formula. You are the time master — the tamer of all the things.

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