Make priorities matter again

You become what you focus on.

Confusing priorities drive confusing results.

Prioritization requires clarity but, most importantly, sacrifice. Saying yes to what’s important is easy. What you say ‘no’ to defines your success.

An ‘even over’ statement is a declaration of priority. You are saying you will prioritize one good thing even over another good thing.

Use this tool to establish clear team priorities. Your team will become what they focus on.


Leading is about choice. You have to make tough calls. Prioritizing requires favoring one good thing over another.

Getting rid of negative, meaningless things is easier. The challenge is prioritizing among good things.

An ‘even over’ statement is an action-driven tool. It will help you choose one good thing even over another good thing.

At Liberationist, when we kick off a culture or team tranformation project, one of the first step is understanding alignment. That includes asking individuals to define priorities using even over statements.

As you might imagine, when we compare everyone’s notes, there’s usually a huge gap. Not only priorities are unclear. People have a hard time prioritizing–especially between two good things.

Here are some examples of even over statements:

  • Local clients even over global clients
  • Employees happiness even over customers happiness
  • Speed even over perfection


Duration: 30-min workshop

Participants: Everyone who can inform and should decide key priorities within a particular team. Prioritize diverse perspectives/ backgrounds even over rank.

Team size: 5-7 people


1. Share the goals and purpose of the session

2. Ask everyone to share the goals, purpose, desired behaviors, objectives, etc. that the team wants to achieve in the short and long term

Participants should capture single ideas on one post-it. Everyone can write as many as they can. Stick all post-its to a wall.

Cluster post-its in case people share similar concepts but using different wordings.

3. Ask people to –individually– write even over statements using the following formula:

(Choice A) even over (Choice B)

(Durability) even over (style) could work for a company like Ikea.

(Wow our Customers) even over (sales profit) captures Zappos’ customer-centric approach.

4. Share out and consolidate ‘even over’ statements. Allow time for people to provide feedback and comments before moving to the next step 

5. Vote even over statements using a 1-5 scale.

6. Choose the top 3. (Some folks recommend 5, I like to keep it simple and focused) 

7. Spread the top 3 even over statements across the organization/ team.

8. Be open to feedback––especially to ensure clarity and understanding.

Coaching Tips

Pick a facilitator. S/he needs to be unbiased and guide the process. The facilitator should push back to ensure priorities are clear. 

Revisit your priorities on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Changing your priorities constantly can be as bad not changing them ever. Monitor results and market changes and see if you need to readjust or clarify your priorities.  

Prioritize business even over individual happiness. Don’t let groupthink get in the way of what’s right. When selecting and voting priorities, everyone should focus on what will help the overall team and organization, not their personal interests.

Additional Reading