How Problem Prioritization Works and Why It Matters

Hilary Corna
3 min readAug 22

On average, I’ve seen organizations I’ve worked with identify 80 to 120 problems across their entire operation. This is typical because operations are designed to be indefinite, so there’s never a point where we have zero problems. But it doesn’t mean that we have to solve all 100 problems at once.

There’s a misconception that all problems are equal in weight. Since all the operation problems are equally important, we have to solve all of them now. Going this route only creates overwhelm, frustration, confusion, and a lack of clarity around what actually matters most. This is where problem prioritization comes in. It helps you separate and compartmentalize problems that matter and make sense to solve now from problems that are less important and can wait.

Why Problem Prioritization Matters

Problem prioritization removes as much subjectivity as possible from the choice of what you are going to focus on in the company in order to improve. It allows you to make it less about your own personal opinions or siloed initiatives and more about what the operation truly needs.

This methodology takes the personal component out of the equation. The CEO or director doesn’t have the weight of choosing. Problem prioritization allows the operation to tell you what will drive the most ROI in the shortest amount of time.

Problem Prioritization is like gold mining

We don’t have to solve all the problems at once. The right way to solve problems is to do it incrementally — by breaking apart the ones that are the most valuable like gold mining. You are sifting through problems and bringing the most valuable ones to the surface.

You are slowly and surely chipping away at the core to discover what makes a great process. It’s like what Michelangelo said about creating David. For Michelangelo, every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to release it. He didn’t make David. He was already there. He just found him.

That is typically what organizations’ processes look like. You have a great process. It’s in your operation, but it’s cluttered and distorted with people who weren’t trained effectively and…

Hilary Corna

CEO | Founder of The Human Way | Bestselling Author | New book #UNprofessional out 9/21 | Host of the UNprofessional podcast | As seen in Forbes, Fortune, WSJ