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Let this Rockefeller habit help you in prioritization

#TLDR: Top 5 and top 1-in-5 approach focuses you and your team not only for the year but also on the quarter, month, and even next week!

One of my favorite books is "Mastering the Rockefeller Habits" by Verne Harnish. John D Rockefeller (1839-1937), apart from being the world's richest person in modern history, was also a highly effective people leader. By the time he was 40 years old, he controlled 90% of global oil refineries.


In order to run such a vast global enterprise before the advent of computers (1880's when even phones were a novelty!), Rockefeller had certain ways of running his operations. The beauty of his approaches is that they are as applicable to you and me as they are to multi-billion dollar enterprises. I want to talk about one such approach today.


Prioritization is one of the #DailyStruggles that we talk about at #PBJAM. From this perspective, here is how you can use the Rockefeller approach.


Step 1: Jot down five goals that you want to achieve over the next 12 months. This works best for the calendar year as most companies work with calendar year systems. The ideal time for such an exercise is Nov-Dec as that's about the time when you have more clarity on the upcoming calendar year. I normally use Thanksgiving week to think about upcoming goals. Then, in early December, I discuss them with my key stakeholders (my team, colleagues, managers, spouse, and family). Yes, this works best if it is an inclusive and holistic approach. By late December (and never beyond Christmas day), I finalize the goals.


Step 2: Highlight one or two goals from these 5 to focus on for the next quarter (upcoming 3 months). As we all know, it is not very fruitful to have multiple priority-1 activities in our lives. In this step, think as to which ones you have to focus on for the next 3-months. This helps to increase the focus for the next quarter.


Step 3: Set monthly and weekly milestones towards the one or two goals in focus for the upcoming 3 months. This is a critical step that starts to convert your aspirations (goals) into tangible actions. This is also the time when you realize whether the goals are too ambitious. For me, most of the time they are over-ambitious and I use monthly/weekly milestones to chop the goal down to a more realistic scope... an utter exercise in humility, let me tell you! But a very useful one.


Step 4: Execute, Monitor, and Adjust: I put the milestones on my calendar as "to-do" and also block times as needed. The good thing is that normally my calendar is free if I plan outside of an immediate 2-3 week period and then, later on, I don't have to worry about not having time for my milestones. You can use #SMARTSteps in #PBJAM. As I execute against the milestones, I do reflect on how I am doing and adjust the milestones as needed. By repeating this process at least once a month, I stand a greater chance of achieving my 3-month goals.


What has helped you in #prioritization? How has been your experience with Rockefeller's technique discussed above? We love to hear from you and read your comments. So, keep them coming!



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