Understanding the priorities for colleagues can be vital to your success. A priorities map reveals the network of priorities for people in your organization. Often, team members confuse a lack of understanding with a difference in priorities. For example, the CEO may have very different priorities than the VP of Human Resources. To help you understand these differences, consider creating priority map for your organization. Here’s how:

A Spheres of Service Priorities Map can reveal a lot about your organization

A Spheres of Service Priorities Map can reveal a lot about your organization

1. Pick Your Tool

If this is your first time building such a map, use paper or a dry-erase board. However, if you’re looking to build a comprehensive map for distribution, I suggest Powerpoint / Keynote. Visio or a similar flowchart program is even better.

2. Establish Boundaries

If you include all potential stakeholders, you may be there a while. For your first time, I suggest limiting the priorities to the shared stakeholders of your organization. This can include consumers, investors / sponsors or donors.

3. Center Shared Stakeholders

List common stakeholders in the middle. In business, this will typically include employees, customers and investors. Chances are this is too broad though, and you will need to break these out into specific groups. For example, Accounting, Finance and  Information Technology teams.

4. Establish Weighted Connectors for Priorities

As you connect each stakeholder to yourself and other parties, mark the relationships according to the order of priority. In the demonstration here, I use the heaviest weighting and a bright red color for Priority 1. A lighter weight, blue color signifies priority 2 and the lightest weight, yellow color is priority 3. To start, keep your priorities to the top 3.

5. Map Your Priorities

Spheres of Service Priorities for an Executive Committee

Priorities Map for an Executive Committee

Connect each stakeholder with the proper priority weighting. When finished, you should see a visual display of the order in which you serve different stakeholders. Now, frame your challenge according to these priorities.

6. Consider Reality of Self-Service Priorities

Be careful with this one. However, if the picture is not more complete when the map is finished, consider if your map reflects reality. Is there a chance your colleague seeks to serve himself/herself first?

7. Assessment Questions

When you’re done mapping, here are some key points to consider:

1. Where are you aligned on priorities?

2. Where are you farthest apart on priorities?

3. How can you come closer together on priorities?

If you’ve done a comprehensive map:

1. Which stakeholders have the greatest number of high priority connectors? Are these teams getting most of the resources?

2. Which stakeholders have the greatest number of low priority connectors? Are these teams getting too few resources?

After you’ve done a couple one-to-one maps, try bringing them together to form a more complete picture of your organization. What would the executive committee priorities of service look like for your company? Does this reflect the gaps in support you see within different teams? By taking the time to map out these priorities you create a constructive perspective of the realities in your operating relationship.

Question: Does a priority map reveal any surprises about your organization?