The Top Ten List that Every Top COO Needs

The Top Ten List that Every Top COO Needs

When it comes to running a business, a top ten list is what every COO needs. What kind of top ten list, though? Put simply, it’s a list of the core projects you need to get done. It’s built into sections, prioritizing projects in a way that helps you get them done. Here’s how it works:

Limiting it to Ten

At your next quarterly or annual strategic planning meeting, consider making a top ten list of the core projects you need to work on. Make sure you leave the meeting with only ten projects to focus on. This could be ten smaller ones for the quarter to ten larger ones for the year. Either way, you must limit them to ten!

“If “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do,” as Michael Porter famously said in a seminal HBR article, then the essence of execution is truly not doing it.” – Harvard Business Review

Dividing the Top Ten List

Your top ten list of core projects should be divided into three sections. There should be four projects in section one, four in section two, and two in section three. These sections are kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. Here’s what each of these sections should entail:

Section one needs to include your top four projects on the list. These are going to be your core projects, the corner pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.

Section two is your four projects that are next in line after the four core ones. These are like the side pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.

Section three is the last two projects on your list, the shiny, simpler projects. These are the middle pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.

The Order is Important

You must ensure that you get your core projects done in that order. If it comes down to not completing two, this ensures that it’s the last two, not the core first two. The top four projects are essentially the building blocks from which the other projects work. So, make sure the top four are complete before you start anything else.

Using this method will also make sense to all your employees too, which means that there is no confusion on the importance of ongoing projects.

Focusing on the ‘critical few’ projects of the ‘important many’ is how you create a strong, well-run company. It’s much harder to get the important things done when your focus is all over the place.

Do you make a top ten list or do you prioritize projects differently? Let us know in the comments below!

If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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