Triage for Business Issues

We’ve all been there. It seems like the issues we are facing are overwhelming. We just cannot decide what to do next. How do others handle this?

The Concept of Triage

You’re probably somewhat familiar with the concept of triage in the medical field. In the event of a major disaster medical personnel must divide casualties into groups. Basically those groups determine who gets treatment and in what order. In a sense it seems unfair, but without it many might die who had an excellent chance of recovery.

How this Relates to Business

In business the issues and decisions facing us daily can overwhelm us if we lack a way to determine where to place our attention. Here is a hint – It is not necessarily the issue about which people are screaming the loudest. Not that we don’t consider that, but some people have a way of making everything seem like a do or die situation.

Triage Model

You may be familiar with the Four Quadrant Time Management model of how to use your time that separates things you deal with into one of four quadrants. Really this is more about task management than time management. Properly manage your tasks and time will take care of itself. Here is a sample of this matrix from the site that discusses this process. You can see more on this at this link. Four Quadrant Time Management

Time Management Matric

How Does this relate to Business Issues?

Nearly all business decisions fall fairly clearly into one of these quadrants. The trick is to put the time wasters (things like random web browsing) in Quadrant 4, minimize the distractions of Quadrant III, schedule time to handle or delegate items in Quadrant I, and make certain you put the correct things in Quadrant II and try to spend your time here as much as possible. It is in Quadrant II that you will accomplish the most important tasks.

But wait, there are four categories here and I’ve been using the term triage. That is because for all practical purposes, Quadrants III and IV are very similar. In fact, by making clear you intentions to others you can likely move something out of Quadrant III (like interruptions) and into Quadrant IV where you may find it never has to be handled. In fact, if you have something in Quadrant IV that has to be handled it may well be in the wrong place. Basically what you are trying to do is get down to working almost exclusively with Quadrants I, II, and III, with the priority being Quadrant II first, Quadrant I second, and Quadrant III last. Remember, you also have a great opportunity to move items out of Quadrant I and even eliminating them by clearly communicating with others and making sure things like meetings are really needed. After all, it is rare the company that manages to avoid time wasting meetings. Try to be one who does.

In some ways this process is similar to that I discussed in my blog post, Organize – Everything in It’s Place where I suggested a similar method of sorting things into three stacks to aid in deciding what to do with paperwork.

What do you do to prioritize? Nearly everyone can offer a suggestion for ways to address what really matters.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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