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Priority setting

Determining impact and feasibility of competing opportunities 

How do you choose among activities, projects and opportunities competing for your organisationís limited resources? How do you know if what you are focussed on now will be right for the next five years? Priorities should be chosen to maximise the long-term returns to your organisation or industry within the context of your vision and an understanding of your business environment.

Using a framework based on the impact of the opportunity and the feasibility of tackling the opportunity, existing and new areas can be assessed. Impact and feasibility have proven to be robust criteria for discriminating between competing opportunities. Impact assesses the potential economic, social and environmental benefits of an opportunity and the ability of the market to capture those benefits. Feasibility assesses the capacity of your organisation to develop and deliver the opportunity to the market. The impact and feasibility criteria combine to deliver a return, which can be assessed in terms of financial, social and/or environmental values.

The priority setting framework is applicable in situations where there are unlimited demands and limited capacity to meet them. Using agreed criteria that are consistent with the framework, various areas of opportunity can be defined and prioritised and a strategy developed for each area in line with the priority decision.

Four Scenes can guide the selection of suitable underlying indicators for the major criteria. The priority setting process draws on relevant background information as well as the knowledge and experience of a selection of your stakeholders who come together with key staff in a priority setting workshop. These workshops are as much about building good stakeholder relations as they are about determining priorities. Thereís much learning and a lot of good fun!

Mike has worked with many scientific research and development organisations in Australia and overseas to facilitate priority setting workshops. These include CSIRO and a number of its Divisions, forestry R&D organisations in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and PNG and R&D agencies of state government departments.

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