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The Strategy Design

How to prioritize between different objectives?

Difficulty of selection

Prioritizing is often the most difficult part of the strategy design process. All strategies and actions produced in a brainstorming session for example look important and inter-related, how to leave anything out and focus the scarce resources?

Group exercise

To prioritise the LAG has to be clear about what matters most. Prioritizing is an important aspect of all decision-making and often needs to be done as a group activity if the results are to be generally agreed on. The LEADER bottom-up approach means that the local actors participate in decision-making about the strategy and in the selection of the priorities to be pursued in their local area.

From individual to commonly agreed

The various options are worked out using brainstorming, surveys or other methods. A graphic format is selected to allow the prioritizing of options to be simple and visually displayed. There are many ways of doing this and you can use special structures to help you with this. After presenting and discussing the issues the group work participants make individual choices using stickers or cards. The analyzed results provide a basis for the decision-making or further discussions.

Methods for prioritizing

Two methods are described here and you can find many more from the internet or from specialized practitioners (facilitators). Both methods are meant for a group of people to collectively rank competing priorities and they are suitable for a workshop or a public meeting.


Wheel of fortune group prioritizing method

  1. Preparation
    Large sheets of paper are taped together to create a big square on the floor or a table. The bigger the group, the larger it needs to be. A large circle is drawn on the paper, divided into as many slices as there are options. Each slice is labelled.

  2. Coloured sticky notes
    Participants are each given 3 cards or Post-it notes. Different colours can be given to people representing different interest groups.

  3. Voting
    Participants vote for their top three priorities by placing their cards or Post-its in the relevant slice.

  4. Discussion and recording
    Votes are counted and recorded for further discussion. The process can be repeated with different groups

Stephen Covey Time Management Matrix prioritizing method

  1. Preparation
    Draw a grid of four squares with one axis labeled “Urgency” and the other labeled “Importance” (as shown in the diagram).

  2. List of objectives
    Collate a list of objectives or pick them from earlier documents. Different colors can be given to objectives representing different themes.

  3. Placing with discussion
    Place each task in the grid to indicate its importance and its urgency.

  4. Recording
    Record solution for further discussion, work or document.

You can also use the axes as scales to allow more variety.

Priority = a goal of an organization

SMART / SMARTER objectives

The letters stand for:
S : Specific (Significant, Stretching, Simple)
M : Measurable (Meaningful, Motivational, Manageable)
A : Attainable (Appropriate, Achievable, Agreed, Assignable, Actionable, Ambitious, Aligned, Aspirational)
R : Relevant (Realistic, Resourced, Resonant)
T : Time-bound (Time-oriented, Time framed, Timed, Time-based, Timeboxed, Timely, Time-Specific, Timetabled, Time limited, Trackable, Tangible)
E : Evaluated (Ethical, Excitable, Enjoyable, Engaging, Ecological)
R : Re-evaluated

Group facilitation is a process in which a person whose selection is acceptable to all the members of the group, who is substantively neutral, and who has no substantive decision-making authority diagnoses and intervenes to help a group improve how it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions, to increase the group’s effectiveness.

Tips for Wheel of fortune
It is often worth allowing people to change their votes after seeing how others vote and discuss the results. This allows people to think through situations which are often quite complex.

  • Facilitator's skill is finding the appropriate graphic format for the issues being considered.
  • Computers may prove helpful in processing the results, especially where large number of people and choices are involved.


Tips for Stephen Covey Matrix

  • When building the list of tasks and assessing their urgency and importance get the whole of your team involved. People are likely to have differing views on the urgency and importance of some tasks – allow the discussions but ensure that they come to an agreed conclusion as each task must end up somewhere on the grid. Getting everyone involved in the discussion gives them a stake in the process, and means they are much more likely to get involved with delivering the final plan.


Last update: 13/11/2012 | Top