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Friday, July 27, 2018

Lean Quote: Weed the Garden, A Lesson In Priorities

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority." — Karen Martin, The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence

We often feel pushed to be all things to all people. We’ve probably worked in institutions, organizations, and teams where we felt a need to affirm and operationalize our commitment to everything. However, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

I was in a leadership workshop where another participant described setting priorities as weeding the garden. He wanted to eliminate the things that he didn’t value so that the things that he did could grow. I love the metaphor and often think of it when I am feeling overwhelmed. Weed the garden.

A previous boss once encouraged me to find a way to do less, so that I can be more. I use this often with my staff. I also think of it when I find myself losing my way as a leader, parent, partner, etc. Do less, so you can be more.

The 80/20 principle is key to prioritization. The rule suggests that 80% of the things that you do bring only 20% of the results. So what if you focused on the 20% that contributed to 80% of the results. These high payoff activities have the most impact on our success now and in the future. The key is picking and focusing on the powerful 20% and letting the rest go. What if you spent 80% of your time on that powerful 20%?

How will you weed the garden?

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