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Special User Sections > The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009

Request: Please share your prioritization methods here

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Armando:

Even after you wrote out that well thought out post, did you list your prioritization methods?

-Paul Keith (June 17, 2010, 04:05 PM)
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Well, I think he did :

My system, although it relies more heavily on gut instinct, also forces simpler choices and averages out the result. Those same experienced officers would no doubt have pretty good gut instinct. And, if faced with only two targets to choose from instead of a whole list, they'd usually make the right choice. So, if you force them to make choices of one target out of each possible pair, then calculate the most important targets from that set of "votes", the final result is pretty reliable. Yes, the method still has weaknesses - in any method, if those following the process are obsessed with a single issue, that obsession will dominate the results. But, by reducing things to a set of - mostly - easy choices, then calculating relative merits based on those choices, it does smooth out a lot of errors introduced by more complex systems.
-raybeere (June 17, 2010, 01:29 PM)
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I use this a lot too. It's similar to what's called "Paired Comparison Analysis".

raybeere:
I'm a fan of robust discussion myself. So I'm not easily insulted. :D

But I am afraid Armando is right. I did explain my method. It is just a deceptively simple one.

List all the items to be prioritised. Break that list up into all possible pairs, and for each pair, choose the most important item. Tally up the votes, and calculate the relative importance of each item.

Since this is very clunky to do by hand, I did write a - clunky ;) - WordPerfect macro some years ago (1998?) to let me input a list of tasks, then display the paired choices and do the calculations for me. It is limited to a list of certain length, since the clunky routines I used to keep track of things had to be copied and expanded, and I got sick of doing that. I decided I could always do that later, if I needed to. So far, I haven't needed to.

I'm not sure I'm ready to share that, as I'm afraid the amusement it would provide the coders among you might prove so overwhelming it would turn fatal. :-[ (In other words, you'd all laugh yourselves to death.) I suspect something similar could be done in AHK, but there are also undoubtedly much more elegant solutions than the one I used.

Paul Keith:
Oh, sorry for the misunderstanding.

I guess in this case the question would be, what general terms/questions you use to separate the pair and decide on. (unless you meant you just stick to the criteria of which is most important)

I'm actually a huge fan of paired comparison analysis but since I don't know how to make a macro,  I'm often stuck with this

Still my issue with it is that, in the end it's still just a pair and you're still just replacing numbers with pairs. I still dream of a full blown questionaire ala something like this

For example, even the Covey Matrix can branch off into 4 areas all revolving around the concept of importance.

If it just sticks to that question though, again, I apologize for misunderstanding.

raybeere:
As I've used it to date, it just sticks to the basic question: "which is most important / has the highest priority", although that decision may be informed by particular considerations.

This discussion has me thinking, though. Ideally, I'd like to set up a system which - for each pairing - allowed me to select one among various different detailed ways of determining the answer to that question. I'd even like to have it so the user could add custom criteria sets. That's what I'd like to do, now that you've got me thinking, but I fear my skills are not up to that challenge.

At least the version of WP I used for my macro would not allow me to use any type of array (I forget whether arrays were possible but too simple for my purposes or just not possible), which is one reason it was so clunky. In place of arrays, I had to use specific routines. Trying to alter that system so that every time I am presented with a pair to choose from I am also able to choose from a more detailed method of making that choice is just not feasible.

I don't know if it would be easier to set up a routine like that, with the extra choices, in AutoHotKey. I'm still learning how to use AHK. So I have no idea if I'll update my system or not. If I do, I'll share it.

In the meantime, a little more explanation on my own needs for any such system. I often find myself needing to set priorities among a list of things which include a certain number of similar tasks - as well as some very different ones. So I find myself comparing oranges to oranges, apples to apples, and apples to oranges. That's one reason I needed such a simple, flexible system. The methods which work in one area won't work well in another. So, ideally, I'd use the basic framework of Paired Comparison Analysis (I'm pretty sure that was what sparked my own macro, although I can't recall precisely so many years later), but apply a specific set of questions to certain pairings. Say, an "orange evaluation score" for comparing oranges, an "apple evaluation score" for comparing apples, and then the more basic "gut check" when dealing with comparisons between apples and oranges.

But such a routine would only really be useful if I set it up to accept custom checklists / questionnaires, whatever you wish to call them, with custom scoring methods for each one. Each item would be assigned a category, then items with matching categories would get the appropriate questionnaire when their pairing came up, while mismatched items would fall back to the basic "which one trumps the other" question. It would be a great system, but the code to do it would be hideously complex, at least at my skill level.

So, no, I haven't been using a more complex system, but you've convinced me it would be a great idea. :) I don't know if it will happen, though, because doing that all manually would consume more time than it would be worth, at least for me. And unless I get a lot better with AHK than I am now, I have no chance of setting up something that complex.

In general, I have a lot of great ideas for apps to do this and that. My problem is, I can see how they'd work in fair detail - but getting them to work is a struggle. I've actually read that software development is sometimes 'split' between one person who maps out how the app is supposed to work, while another person implements that map. I find the second part much more difficult than the first, which can be frustrating. But if I do ever manage to implement the system you have me thinking about, then I'll share it. :)

Paul Keith:
Thanks raybeere. Looking forward to when that day comes.

Have you had a look at either the Form letter Machine or TFdocs?

I still don't get TFDocs and I still used TFLM for a sort of casual user level way of combining questionnaires but part of what made me want to learn TFDocs then was because of the potential of custom checklists/meet questionairres.

That said, I still don't get it and haven't learned it but outside of the scoring system, some of the demos made it look like it was possible to achieve your idea. I wonder if you'll get an easier time of grasping that service even though it's different from a local application.

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