The Power of Prioritization
Have you ever been given a jar with a bunch of materials: large rocks, smaller rocks, pebbles, sand and water, and been asked to fit as much into the jar as possible? For the inexperienced or uninitiated this challenge can be painful. The lesson: start with the largest items and work your way down, occasionally lightly shaking the jar to get the smaller items to settle in around the larger items to make room for the next group of yet smaller items. The experiment is often set up so all of the materials will fit in the jar if done in this fashion, but only if done in this fashion. If done in reverse order, inevitably one or more of the larger items will remain on the outside of the jar.
This is a great life lesson to try with the kids. It is equally applicable to the implementation of our business plans, or our facility vulnerability mitigation plans. It aids us in looking at the bigger picture and mitigating the issues that are draining real resources; in prioritizing the big ticket items that have real cost: in man power, or litigation, or automation, or IP exposure; in allowing us to identify savings to tackle the next level of issues. To do this it is important to understand the totality of what we are working with. What is the bigger picture? What are the big rocks, the little rocks, the pebbles, the sand, and the water? Each is important in its own right and each will have someone that will argue the merits of their size. Someone will inevitably argue that their pebble is really a boulder, so it is important to have clear criteria for weighing the value of the issues that are being addressed. The scales should not merely be measured in dollars and cents to implement a phase, but should also include the likelihood of an occurrence, frequency of occurrence, and severity of consequence of an occurrence; as well as protection of human life, improved operational efficiency, reduction of litigation, protection of intellectual property, and increased personal safety.
In the end we want to build a robust long-term plan that is scalable, flexible and adaptable which addresses the largest most likely issues first and works its way toward less severe and less likely events.
Make it a great day!