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Book Notes from 'Extreme Ownership' By Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Prioritize and Execute

  • How could we possibly tackle so many problems at once.
  • Prioritize and execute - even the greatest of battlefield leaders could not handle an array of challenges simultaneously without being overwhelmed.
  • Determine the greatest priority for the team.
  • Then rapidly direct the team to attack that priority.  - full resources of the team were engaged in that highest priority effort.
  • I could then determine the next priority, focus the teams efforts there, and then move on to the next priority
  • I could not allow myself to be overwhelmed.
  • That training was designed to overwhelm us - to push us far outside our comfort zone, and force us to make critical decisions under pressure.
  • Principle
    • A leader must remain calm and make the best decisions possible.
    • SEAL  combat leaders utilize Prioritize and Execute. - we verbalize this principle with this direction - 'Relax, look around and make a call'
    • Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously.
    • Leaders must determine the highest priority task, and execute.
    • When overwhelmed - fall back on this principle - prioritize and execute.
    • A particularly effective means to help prioritize and execute under pressure is to stay at least a step or two ahead of real time problems.
    • Leaders at the top of the organization, to 'pull themselves off the firing lines' step back, and maintain the strategic picture. This is essential to help correctly prioritize for the team.
    • Just as in combat - priorities can rapidly shift and change. When this happens, communication of that shift to the rest of the team, both up and down the chain of command is critical.
    • To implement prioritize and execute - in any business, team, or organization - a leader must.
      • Evaluate the highest priority.
      • Lay out in simple, clear and concise terms the highest priority effort for the team.
      • Develop and determine a solution
      • Direct the execution of that solution - focusing all efforts and resources toward this priority task.
      • Move on to the next highest priority
      • When priorities shift within the team - pass situational awareness both up and down the chain.
      • Don’t let the focus on one priority cause target fixation - see other problems developing.
  • Application to Business
    • The CEO went into great detail through a multitude of very impressive sounding plans
    • Have you ever heard the term 'decisively engaged'
      • Is a term used to describe a battle in which a unit locked in a tough combat situation cannot maneuver or extricate themselves.  - in other words, they cannot retreat, they must win.
    • Of all the initiatives, which one do you feel is the most important, which one is the highest priority
    • With all that you have planned, do you think your team is clear that this is your highest priority.
    • With all your other efforts - all your other focuses - how much actual attention is being given to ensuring your frontline salespeople are doing the best job possible.
    • How much of a difference would it make if you and the entire company gave them one hundred percent of your attention for the next few weeks or months.
    • I taught them to prioritize and execute
    • Prioritize your problems and take care of them one at a time - the highest priorities first
    • Don’t try and do everything at once or you wont be successful.
    • But you move the needle on them when you are spread thin - my suggestion is to focus on one and when that one is completed, or at least has some momentum, then you move to the next one and focus on that.
    • When that one is done - then move to the next, and so on down the line until you have knocked them all out. 
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2016 10:14 AM Agile , TeamBuilding | Back to top


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