As we've interviewed thousands of people in organizations of all sizes and types, we've often heard comments like these:

Whose priorities?”

“Those are not my priorities!”

“No one listens to me—my opinion doesn't matter to anyone.”

“Nothing will change—it never does!”

“This must be the next flavor-of-the-month program.”

“Great—the blind are still leading the blind!”

Why? Because when an organization doesn't have a reliable way to determine priorities, it usually relies on the judgment of the person who has the most authority, who is the delegated spokesperson, who has the most dominant voice, or who is the most persuasive. Unfortunately, people who have critical knowledge about the essential priorities aren't consulted, don't have a platform from which to make their points, or simply remain silent—after all, input that is radically different or that goes against the official party line could result in personal jeopardy.

What happens? Executives, even those who say they want broad input, frequently (though inadvertently) operate within a climate that severely limits the contribution of their close associates. As a result, decisions about priorities tend to be made by the same person or small group of people. They tend to follow decisions that were made in the past—without taking into account the wisdom of seldom listened to stakeholders who often withhold vital information upon which future success depends.

This book breaks that pattern. It lets your organization and the people connected to it open their eyes and ears to the wealth of resident intelligence that tends to be ignored. It opens avenues to rigorous diagnosis—identification, prioritization, and generation of innovative solutions—by the people who know the inner workings of your organization. It opens the door to creative resolution of the issues that, if not addressed, will limit progress, waste resources, cause stagnation, or hasten the demise of your organization. It expands the vistas of everyone associated with the enterprise. It makes each person aware of possibilities and promises that can be achieved as the entire organization focuses on limiting barriers and renewing its commitment to success. It opens eyes to the best way of accomplishing objectives that until now have seemed to be just out of reach.

About The Authors

Bryant L. Stringham, Ph.D., Partner, Priority Systems

Dr. Stringham received his B.Ed., M.Ed., and PH.D. in educational administration from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Following several years of teaching and administrative experience, he became Director of Field Services for the Alberta Department of Education, where his staff advised school board personnel on financial management and maintenance of quality instruction in classrooms. During this time he evaluated British educational methods for Canadian use; rewrote the Alberta School Act; was a guest lecturer at the University of Alberta, University of Birmingham, and Sheffield Polytechnic in England; and published articles in the areas of educational legislation and organization. His doctoral dissertation in the field of public policy development has been used as a university reference text.

Since 1979, Dr. Stringham has directed PriorityPath® projects concerning policy development, organizational structure, risk management, increased productivity, project management, conflict resolution, needs assessment, and planning. He has provided HRD specialty services for numerous educational and industrial organizations. Clients such as the governments of Canada, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories—as well as numerous corporations including but not limited to Westinghouse, Chevron, Syncrude Canada, Esso, and Petro-Can—have benefited from his consulting services.

Dr. Stringham has been a featured speaker for numerous government, management, environment, waste management, and education conferences. He has also been a presenter in a semiannual Industrial Risk Management Course sponsored by the University of Alberta. Through the years, concurrent with his professional responsibilities, he has occupied senior executive positions within a large community organization. He is currently a partner in the firm of Priority Systems® , where he continues to offer the PriorityPath ® process to clients.

 

Jon D. Stephens, Partner, Priority Systems®

Jon D. Stephens' experience in system development and execution is extensive. His undergraduate degree is in mathematics, and he has completed considerable postgraduate work in the field of operations research. From July 1964 to January 1966, he worked for the Kenetics Corporation in Solana Beach, California. While there he served as head of the Reliability Department, responsible for all failure mode and effect analyses. His assignment included the gathering of data and use of advanced statistical techniques related to loss prevention and reliability.

From February 1966 to September 1967, Jon was a system safety engineer at the Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington. While there, he was responsible for the development of advanced mathematical formulas used in resolving complex systems analysis techniques, including the mathematical proofs for the solution to Fault Tree Analysis. He was responsible for gathering, interpreting, and using statistical data on large aerospace programs, such as the Minuteman Missile System. His responsibilities included development of an advanced analog computer to solve complex fault trees. Later on, he was responsible for performing statistical analysis on employee systems.

Jon has been a guest lecturer at many conferences worldwide. His publications include:

  • "Consideration of the Life Support System," 4th Annual Safe Symposium, San Diego, CA
  • "Systems Safety Using Monte Carlo Methods in Fault Tree Analysis," The Boeing Company, Seattle, WA
  • "Lambda Tau or Constant Repair Method for Fault Tree Analysis," The Boeing Company, Seattle, WA (this is the definitive paper on Fault Tree Analysis, which is still used extensively in the nuclear and aerospace industries)

Since early 1970, Jon has been involved in the development and use of PriorityPath ® and its predecessors, which are an outgrowth of his systems engineering background. As part of that work, he has managed numerous applications of the system worldwide.