Wingman Pattern: Filters and Priorities

One of my mentors showed me a simple success pattern for achieving more at work, while gaining more credibility and freedom.   It’s Filters and Priorities. 


The method works by  connecting your work to business priorities.  He put the simple picture above as a way to illustrate the point.

Basically, management has a set of priorities they are focused on.  Managers will also tend to have filters for how they look at the world.  It’s the language they use and the trigger words they care about.  It’s their map of reality.  Your opportunity then is to figure out how your work connects to the priorities, using their filters.

When you focus on these meaningful intersections, and connect your work, you amplify success at multiple levels.  Rather than pursuit disconnected ideas, you connect your ideas in a way that gains leverage.  You also gain the power of focus.  In addition, as you get these wins under your belt, and you gain credibility, it’s easier for management to trust you to go out on a limb, and start going after the wild cards, and testing your game changers.

At the worst case, at least you stay relevant.  Relevancy is king in a demand-driven or pull-driven world.

Comments (2)

  1. Sounds like an intuitive and reasonable approach to managing up. Putting a concrete example together is challenging, however. That said, perhaps this simple example helps illustrate (if this is not the direction you intended, then please provide a nudge that way): manager has a priority of Project X, and filters such as (capacity, progress, user stories, process improvement). In finding the intersection, I should be clearly communicating about the progress of Project X in terms of user stories; if there is a lack of capacity, or extra capacity, then I need to express this frequently – and again, linking to user stories can be helpful, and so forth. GANTT charts, while useful in some circumstances, are not part of his language or triggering, so communication using a GANTT chart is unlikely to “amplify [my] success”.

  2. J.D. Meier says:

    @ sfuqua — Speaking their language is helpful and it sounds like that's what you're doing with capacity, progress, user stories, and process improvement.

    However, I would uplevel the game, and find out what problems they want to solve.  At the end of the day, solving the problems they care about, makes you relevant and valued.  Speaking in their terms and filters simply helps you connect and avoid conflicts in communication and styles.

    If you know what problem they are trying to solve, you can race to the end in mind.