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  • Writer's pictureRoAnn Thorne, STP, ENV SP

Prioritize Value Over Urgency: Using the Eisenhower Matrix in Alternative Project Delivery

In the dynamic world of Alternative Project Delivery (APD), where multidisciplinary teams converge to innovate and execute complex projects, prioritizing effectively is not just an advantage—it's a necessity. At Mission Critical, we've mastered the art of prioritization to drive our success and optimize the time and effort required from our client teams. One of the pivotal tools in our arsenal is the Eisenhower Matrix, a simple yet powerful decision-making tool that distinguishes the urgent from the important, ensuring that value always takes precedence.

A Strategic Framework for Priority Management

The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, traces its origins back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who famously said, "I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent." This concept inspired a method that prioritizes tasks by urgency and importance, a strategy that has been widely adopted in time management practices today.

  1. Urgent & Important: Tasks that demand immediate attention and direct action. These critical activities often come with tight deadlines and high stakes.

  2. Important, Less Urgent: Tasks crucial for long-term success and strategic goals. While they don't require immediate action, they need careful planning and scheduling to address them.

  3. Urgent, Less Important: Tasks requiring prompt action but not immediate attention. We track to ensure completion without diverting focus from more critical tasks.

  4. Neither Urgent Nor Important: Tasks that don't contribute directly to critical goals and often serve as distractions. These are either deleted or revised to ensure the action delivers value.

By categorizing tasks within this framework, we ensure focused attention on truly consequential activities, promoting efficiency and effectiveness in our project management.

The Eisenhower-Kanban Synergy at Mission Critical

At Mission Critical, we're constantly exploring innovative ways to enhance our internal workflow management, ensuring efficiency and clarity in all our processes. One such innovation is Kanban, a visual system for managing work as it moves through a process, allowing our team to see the flow of work from start to finish and identify any bottlenecks. Imagine a board filled with cards, each representing a task. These cards move from one column to another (for example, from 'To Do' to 'In Progress' to 'Done'), providing a clear visual representation of work progress.

Now, combine this with the Eisenhower Matrix, a tool effective in prioritizing tasks based on their urgency and importance, and you have a powerful synergy. The Eisenhower Matrix helps us categorize tasks effectively, determining what needs immediate attention, what should be scheduled, what can be moved to a non-critical workflow, and what can be eliminated for a more optimized approach. This methodology has become so integral to our operations that it's a staple in our team's 30-minute morning standup meetings.

By integrating the Eisenhower Matrix's principles into our Kanban system, we've created a dynamic, cohesive workflow that keeps everyone on the same page. This synergy leads to enhanced productivity and streamlines our focus, ensuring that we're always working on tasks that drive value for us and our clients.

A Game-Changer in Complex Pursuits

We use tools like the Eisenhower Matrix to quickly help teams discern which tasks require immediate action and which hold the most significant potential for building value into each pursuit. This rapid analysis tool is crucial in environments like Design-Build or Progressive Design-Build models, where multidisciplinary teams must work in parallel to achieve a common goal.

For example, on a recent Statement of Proposal for a $500M Public-Private Partnership (P3) involving 13 passenger transit sites, we used the Eisenhower Matrix method to streamline tasking for multiple design and construction groups operating simultaneously, each with its array of urgent tasks and strategic objectives. Mission Critical successfully reduced time spent by workgroups in meetings, fostered a culture of strategic thinking, drove collective prioritization and shared objectives, and ensured that all team members, regardless of discipline, were moving in the same direction.

Mission Critical: Human-Powered Expertise

Our role at Mission Critical goes beyond conventional consultancy; we are proactive delivery partners committed to your project's success from start to finish. Whether we're steering pursuits, coaching teams through our Peak Preparation program, or strategizing in pre-positioning activities, the Eisenhower Matrix remains a cornerstone of our operational philosophy. It's a tool that empowers us to differentiate the critical from the merely urgent, streamlining processes and saving valuable client hours.


The Eisenhower Matrix is more than a time-management tool; it's a strategic compass that guides us in valuing importance over urgency. In the fast-paced, high-stakes world of APD, this approach is crucial. It's not just about getting things done, but about getting the right things done.

By implementing the Eisenhower Matrix, we learn to prioritize value over urgency, focusing our energy and resources on tasks that truly matter and contribute to long-term success. This approach not only streamlines our workflow but also propels us towards achieving our objectives with precision and efficiency. At Mission Critical, tools like the Eisenhower Matrix keep us grounded in this principle, ensuring that we, and our clients, are always focused on the ultimate goal: delivering innovative, enduring projects that stand the test of time.



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We are Mission Critical  

Mission Critical partners with firms new to writing or developing Alternative Project Delivery pursuits and Top 400 firms focusing on their next big infrastructure project.


To discuss your Alternative Project Delivery pursuit goals with Mission Critical, please contact RoAnn Thorne, Principal. 

RoAnn Thorne, STP, ENV SP
(602) 833-8673

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