Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.
–Scott Caan

Last week during Congressional testimony, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was quizzed repeatedly on “the agency’s priorities in an era when the agency’s fiscal resources may be mismatched to its plans.”

Also last week, the team and I gave a briefing to our senior leaders, in which we addressed the relative priorities of objectives in our strategic plan.

The topic of priorities is a major theme in the mentoring sessions I’m conducting with one of my young protégés at NASA.

And it has been over 10 days since I last posted to Leading Space.

Clearly, my world has revolved around priorities recently.  I’ve been wrestling with priorities, and have watched others near me do the same.  I found that when I am “deep in the weeds,” it is often hard to sort through all the priorities and make meaningful progress.  What is one to do when confronted with a question of priorities?

1. Seek alignment with core values. With the team’s strategic planning task, I have constantly referred back to our organization’s guiding principles for insight.  The Foundations of Mission Operations are a powerful framework for assessing priorities within my organization: if it doesn’t somehow relate directly to one of the seven core values, it likely is not a high priority.

2. Seek feedback. When in doubt, ask a trusted advisor, leader, or sounding board.  I find I am constantly doing this, whether at work or at home.  Sometimes the process of talking through priorities leads to that “aha” moment when insight kicks in and the choices become obvious.

3. Dive in! Sometime, priorities don’t matter – it’s getting things done and showing measurable results that matter.

Meanwhile, I’m getting back to my priorities.


Text © Joe Williams 2011

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto