Deft Decisions in Chaotic Conditions: How Experts Create Order from Turmoil
Hosted by Pat Lynch, Ph.D.
President, Business Alignment Strategies, Inc.
In this thought-provoking interview series, experts share their professional insights and advice about how to set, align, and implement priorities. Participants include a wide array of first responders and organizational experts, as well as psychologists who offer their perspectives about the reasons why people fail to set or implement priorities, and suggestions about how to overcome those obstacles.
Although each expert offered a unique perspective on this topic, common themes emerged. Click here to access the article in which we identify and describe those themes.
First Responder Experts
Set and Implement Priorities
Lieutenant Maria Agnew
Chelan County (WA) Sheriff’s Department
and Maria Agnew Consulting
Maria Agnew is the Deputy Director for Chelan County (WA) Emergency Management and Lieutenant of Special Operations for the Chelan County Sheriff’s Department. In those roles she oversees the training for the Sheriff’s Department, homeland security requirements, grants, budgeting, and resource allocation. In addition to her 23 years of law enforcement experience, Maria is the founder of Maria Agnew Consulting.
In this interview, Lieutenant Agnew identifies key aspects of successfully setting and implementing priorities, and she describes some of the lessons learned over the years of working collaboratively with other agencies during times of emergency.
Challenges that mission-based organizations face in setting and implementing priorities
Save the Children
At the time of our interview, Caroline Loftus was Associate Vice President, Management Support Department, International Programs for Save the Children in Westport, CT. As of January 2010 she assumed a new position for Save the Children U.K. as Director of Operational Support in Global Programs. Save the Children is a worldwide emergency relief agency whose mission is to create lasting, positive change in the lives of children in need. For over 13 years, Caroline was part of a myriad of teams that responded to natural and man-made disasters around the world. During the last two years she has focused on policy and management aspects of the organization.
In this interview, Caroline addresses the challenges that mission-based organizations face in setting and implementing priorities. She describes the extensive planning process Save the Children went through recently, highlighting important lessons that will benefit other organizations.
Setting and implementing priorities in all facets of life
Police Chief Stan Skipworth
California State University, Long Beach
The fact that Police Chief Stan Skipworth holds multiple, varied positions both concurrently and successfully makes him uniquely qualified as an expert in setting and implementing priorities. With over 29 years of law enforcement experience at the municipal, county, and state levels, he currently is Chief of the University Police Department at California State University, Long Beach. Chief Skipworth also is the Southern Section Chief for the California State University’s Critical Response Unit and a facilitator/consultant for the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). In addition to his law enforcement roles, Chief Skipworth’s other roles include City Council member (in Corona, CA), husband, and father of seven children.
In this interview, Chief Skipworth shares his expertise in setting and implementing priorities in all facets of life. He attributes the ability to respond effectively during emergency situations to factors such as clear communication, well-established values, and a commitment to on-going training and development.
How the Los Angeles Fire Department implements its priorities by considering prudent risk management policies
Deputy Chief Mario Rueda
Los Angeles Fire Department
Deputy Chief Mario Rueda has 29 years with the Los Angeles Fire Department and is Commander of the Bureau of Emergency Services. In that role, he oversees the Department’s 107 fire stations that are spread out over 471 square miles. As he worked his way through the ranks and more recently commanded many of the emergencies that have affected the City of Los Angeles, he accumulated years of experience in setting and aligning priorities in a variety of settings.
In this interview, Chief Rueda explains how the Los Angeles Fire Department implements its priorities by considering prudent risk management policies. Using recent examples of major incidents (i.e., emergency situations) in the City, he outlines the process the Department follows during emergencies, and he suggests how that process may be equally effective in setting and implementing priorities back in the office.
Bring clarity to clients so they can set priorities effectively
Sensible Space Organizing Services
Ann Negendank has spent more than 20 years simplifying lives by crafting customized organizing solutions that create space, order, and peace of mind for her clients. The owner of Sensible Space Organizing Services, Ann has received recognition on the state, federal, and international levels for her superb expertise and innovative programs. Prior to owning her own company, Ann was a long-time executive for a city government in southern California.
In this interview, Ann reveals how she helps bring clarity to her clients so they can set priorities effectively. In particular, she focuses on process over methodology, and she suggests ways to address the inevitable obstacles along the way.
The role that values play in setting priorities, and the importance of establishing trusting relationships
Corbett Consulting Services
In addition to being a consultant, mentor, trusted advisor, and entrepreneur, Bill Corbett is a business turnaround expert for small to medium size organizations. One of his specialties is creating and implementing simple solutions for complex problems. Key to his success in restoring businesses to profitability is setting and implementing priorities – and teaching others to do the same.
In this interview, Bill talks about the role that values play in setting priorities, and the importance of establishing trusting relationships.
The characteristics required of leaders and the questions they must answer as they set and implement priorities
An international consultant, CEO coach, author, and world leader in the design of leadership and talent development programs for Fortune 100 companies, Aviv is the founder of Aviv Consulting. A former fighter pilot and trainer of fighter pilots for the Israeli air force, he utilizes the skills honed in those capacities to help executives achieve high performance in critical business operations.
In this interview, Aviv identifies the characteristics required of leaders and lists the questions they must answer as they set and implement priorities. He explains how the priorities established by fighter pilots are applicable in today’s business world.
The importance of using the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic plan as the criteria for setting and implementing priorities
Meeting Planner and Author
Monica Myhill has over twelve years of experience in developing, marketing, managing, and evaluating training programs and conferences in North America and Europe. She has worked extensively with organizations to plan and implement large meetings.
In this interview, Monica emphasizes the importance of using the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic plan as the criteria for setting and implementing priorities.
Prioritization is critical when time is of the essence
Whittier Consulting Group
Katherine Radeka is an expert in “lean” technology and product development. Founder of the Whittier Consulting Group, she has a special affinity for helping clients bring new products to market quickly by setting and implementing priorities effectively. Her clients have an impressive track record in out-performing their competitors.
In this interview, Katherine explains that prioritization is critical when time is of the essence. She provides suggestions about how to quickly identify what is valuable and what is not, and she describes some simple tools to help focus on what needs to be done.
How to allocate scarce resources to continue to implement priorities
Dr. Doug Robinson
California State University, Long Beach
Dr. Doug Robinson is Vice President for Student Services at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). In that position he constantly must balance his role as an advocate for students with the need to serve the often competing interests of a wide variety of stakeholders. He is known throughout the region for his ability to work effectively with students, faculty, staff, and members of the community from a range of ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds.
In this interview, Dr. Robinson tackles the tough issue of how the University allocates its scarce resources so it can continue to implement its priorities of meeting its legal obligations and maintaining the integrity of the learning environment. He describes how CSULB has been reconfiguring its processes to deal with the downsizing of the entire California State University, which is the largest system of higher education in the world.
Priorities in the context of personal values
Dr. Mike Masters
Clinical Psychologist (retired)
Although Mike Masters has retired from his paying jobs, he continues to wear many different hats and has earned multiple titles, such as Doctor (he was a psychologist in private practice for over 25 years, he served as Staff Psychologist, he served on the faculty of the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine), Major (he still serves in the Medical Section – Combat Stress Team of the California State Military Reserves), and Deputy Sheriff (Level III Reserve for the Riverside County (CA) Sheriff’s Department). He continues to serve as the mental health officer for a federal disaster team.
In this interview, Dr. Masters talks about priorities in the context of personal values. He identifies some of the factors that prevent people from setting and/or implementing priorities, and he offers specific suggestions about how to overcome those obstacles.
Obstacles to setting and implementing priorities from both individual and organizational perspectives
Dr. Mary Ann Takemoto
California State University, Long Beach
Dr. Mary Ann Takemoto is Associate Vice President of Student Services at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). A licensed clinical psychologist, her former positions include Director of the CSULB Counseling and Psychological Services Center, and Associate Director of the Counseling Center at the University of California, Irvine.
In this interview, Dr. Takemoto addresses obstacles to setting and implementing priorities from both individual and organizational perspectives. She offers specific suggestions about what people can do both inside and outside the workplace to make effective choices about implementing priorities.
Reasons why people either do not set priorities or fail to implement those they do set
Dr. Michael Seskin
Clinical Psychologist in private practice
Dr. Michael Seskin has been a clinical psychologist in private practice for over 30 years. His practice includes child, adolescent, and adult counseling and psychological evaluation. He currently is undergoing the training necessary to become certified as a psychopharmacologist, a new area for psychologists.
In this interview, Dr. Seskin outlines a number of reasons why people either do not set priorities or fail to implement those they do set. He offers specific suggestions about how to overcome those obstacles as well as his thoughts about some particular challenges faced by young people just entering the workforce today.