How to Evaluate Your Strategic Priorities

Eventually in the strategic planning process, you will have funneled everything you’ve gathered to date into a short list of internal and external priorities. Before you move on from there, do one last check to make sure that what you’ve decided to focus on is aligned with the other parts of your strategy.

Here are some guiding principles to keep in mind when evaluating priorities:

  • Boundary principle: Evaluate every priority based on whether it’s within your mission. Set a rule to require that the opportunity aligns with the organization’s core purpose and values.

  • How-to principle: Develop a principle that requires you to sketch out how to implement the priority if you took advantage of it before jumping in. If you can’t clearly define an action plan for the priority, you know that trying to execute it will go poorly.

  • ROI principle: Prioritize options based on how much money you want to see returned within a certain time period. Pull in your finance or accounting people to help you establish this one.

  • Vision principle: Prioritize some priorities over others based on their connection to reaching your vision. Set a rule to require that all opportunities must help you reach your vision.

Clearly, in the strategic planning process, you seek options and choices. But such decisions occur regularly outside of strategic planning. By establishing rules, you can quickly evaluate whether an opportunity is really an opportunity or a distraction.

Develop a set of principles and use it as a litmus test. If the opportunity doesn’t pass the test, it’s out. Lastly, if the priority isn’t clear to those who haven’t worked on the prioritization described in the section, it’s not going to be accepted.

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