The Priority Plan: A Team Tool?

Aug 1, 2016

For some crazy reason, I’ve not written about Priority Planning yet on this blog – and it is basically my favorite Togetherness habit (see Chapter 4 of the new book!) A Priority Plan is a short, simple and shareable way to articulate your priorities to your manager, colleagues, and team members! Simply put, it is the way to bridge the gap between your Yearly Goals and your Weekly Worksheet. It is HOW the work actually gets done.

During a recent visit with the New York City Department of Education’s Early Childhood Team (they’re doing awesome work on universal Pre-K in NYC!), I stumbled into a Priority Plan I really loved.

Click to see whole sample

Let’s take it apart, section by section, in case you want to build your own.

  1. Time intervals are laid out across the top.
  2. The Policy Team’s list of projects is listed vertically.
  3. The plan outlines the high-level actions needed to achieve the desired project outcomes, e.g. “Red-Line contract” to complete the NYCEEC Policy Handbook.
  4. The estimated percentage of the team’s time for each project each month is also included.

Typically, Priority Plans are completed by individuals. But Ben, a policy consultant team leader in the Early Childhood Division of the NYC DOE, explains how they can also be well-utilized across a team:

We were able to set and review our overarching goals together. In addition, I was able to plan how much time our team should spend on each priority. While I budget my personal time to be 50% dedicated to special projects and “emergencies,” my team overall is spending over 75% of their time on our priority projects.

Mackenzie, a policy consultant with the NYC DOE ECE team explained how the team keeps the Priority Plan alive: “We revisit it during our Monday morning meetings to determine how much time each team member should spend on our three competing projects in the coming week. Since we are transitioning to the month of June we are starting to change our emphasis from one project to another based on the percentages outlined in our Priority Plan.”

While the Priority Plan has always been a strong communication tool, this takes it to a whole new level by using it across a team. I could see this being especially useful if you have a new team where folks are not sure what is most important. And I think the idea of reviewing together on Mondays is super smart!