Ruthless Prioritization to Save Time and Maximize Your Impact

Ruthless Prioritization to Save Time and Maximize Your Impact

There are several great tools out there that help in strategic planning and project management. One exercise I find the most useful as a gut check before starting any new initiative is called the Impact Matrix.

An Impact Matrix looks into how much effort (time, money, software) is required to deliver on a project compared to the project’s impact, the influence it has on reaching your goal.

For example:

Your goal is engage with more constituents. You have have brainstormed several projects to reach this target including:

  • Host regional events for constituents in major cities
  • Develop optional remote programming for constituents like book clubs and speaker series
  • Mobilize volunteers by class year to develop class-specific engagement points and competitions amongst class years

After determining your projects, identify how much effort it would be required to complete the project followed by how much impact the project has on reaching your goals. Depending on your organization, you might rank each project differently from a peer institution.

You might find that you have 80% of your constituents within 4 distinct regions so it makes sense to host regional events as it targets a large number of your alumni. Meaning high impact (4/5), decent level of effort (3)

A peer institution might have a largely dispersed alumni base and instead, they are seeking remote opportunities. They’ve found that it is pretty easy to develop a speaker series and there is a solid level of interest. Medium-high impact (3) low effort (2).

Alternatively, you may realize that while you can develop a speaker series and a book club, your constituents are Zoomed out and aren’t looking for more screen time. Low impact (1/2) low effort (2)

Class loyalty may still run strong in your school and you could already have eager volunteers resulting in low effort (2) and high impact (4). Unfortunately, some schools might have a lot more work in finding volunteers and their effort on the matrix would be higher (4/5) with a medium impact (3).

You want to look for the sweet spot: the projects that have the highest impact while not overwhelming your resources.

Whenever you are trying to prioritize projects or determine what to do next, this quick exercise helps to identify your next steps providing you a logical path forward.

Anything you place in the dark green section should be top priority. The light green part of the matrix should be put on hold. The idea as it stands might not work. That can change, your constituents’ interests might shift, you resources could increase or you find a solution to save you time. Regardless, don’t toss those ideas, put them in a parking lot and save them for later!