Priorities are the reflection of the key "whys" in our life. If we are going to achieve a systematic, unified work and life flow, priorities are not optional. They must be set AND reviewed regularly. They are dynamic, not static factors, therefore they require feedback. Only you can determine what regular means in your life and work. Simon Sinek in his viral TEDx talk, gave a succinct discussion of why getting to YOUR Why is important and powerful.
Simplistic systems are focused on a very limited set of functions. Typically these systems operate in a closed-loop fashion. Inputs come in, get processed in some limited fashion to create an output and then either complete or repeat. There is little or no feedback, and no adaptability. More complex systems incorporate open-loop control, feedback and a myriad of processes based on inputs and/or outputs, with the ability to change or modify processes. Complex systems will establish priorities based on various parameters, either inputs, output, or process related. These priorities will help a system function efficiently and effectively based on it's real-time environment. Our lives are very complex systems, that operate in a complex system of systems called life. Understanding priorities in light of the intended functionality of a system are essential to creating a stable, effective system.
When we set out to create a life that is focused and balanced, priorities will be one of the filters we can use to focus on what is important. Priorities, to be effective, need to be derived from our values and focused on the vision for where we want to go. Having a clear sense of value-driven priorities will help us systematically shape the course of our goals and actions, and will help us clarify how we integrate the various facets of our lives into a whole.
One technique this especially useful in systematically determining a fundamental Why is the Five Why’s. Originally codified by Toyota in the 1950’s as a structured problem solving technique to determine the root cause of manufacturing and design problems, it guides critical thinking to get to the source. As any parent of a three year old knows, it’s been around for eons. So begin with the first why for your life and work that comes to mind. Then ask why that is important. Continue this three more times and you are likely to get to your unifying Cause. Get to this and a battle is won, and the weapon to win the war is now in your hands.
Once we have the WHY (or WHYS), we need to know how we fit them into our system. Next time we’ll discuss the key elements needed to get our system functioning around our WHY(S).