When you ask people about their top priority in life, they typically answer in plural: Work/Career/Business and Family. Or they add things like Fitness and Education.

When you ask brands about their priorities, you get even more plurals: Profitability. Innovation. Growth. Expansion.

And when you ask them 2 years later, the priorities haven’t changed and nothing has been achieved.

Why is that?

When you have too many top priorities, you have no priorities

So, you want to be the best mother in the world, be a high-powered executive, run 6 miles a day, have enough time for yourself, make new friends and spend quality time with your husband? Frankly, it ain’t happening. Something has to give. You have to make compromises or you’ll run around with that dreaded guilty feeling all day long. Running 6 miles a day will cut down on the time you have with your family. Being a high-powered executive conflicts with being the best father in the world. It just does.

Same is true for companies. The main reason why change initiatives in companies fail is the amount of “top” priority projects and an inability to coordinate and integrate these across the enterprise.

A few years back, I was managing 50+ people and one project managers asked me: “We have 10 priority projects going on at the same time with the same urgency. Which one should we focus on.” And I answered: “All of them.”

I should have been fired for that response. Or, at least reprimanded.

You can’t have more than one top priority. Or it’s not a top priority.