First Things First

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First Things First  
A Handbook of  
Priority Setting in Extension  
Laverne Forest  
Sheila Mulcahy  
1
976  
Published by:  
Division of Program and Staff Development  
University of Wisconsin - Extension  
Artwork by: Dale Mann  
Layout and Design by: Colleen Schuh  
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This booklet is part of a professional development module on priority setting that  
includes two audio-visual presentations, a workbook, and discussion guide. This module  
and other professional development materials were produced by the Division of Program  
and Staff Development, University of Wisconsin-Ex tension, under a special-needs grant  
from the Extension Service, United States Department of Agriculture.  
University of Wisconsin-Extension, Gale L VandeBerg, director, in cooperation with the  
United States Department of Agriculture and Wisconsin counties, publishes this  
information to further the purpose of the May 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Congress; and  
provides equal opportunities in employment and programming.  
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Copyright 1976 by University of Wisconsin- Extension,  
Division of Program and Staff Development.  
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Introduction Priority setting is a process we Extension professionals  
must continually use to set and reset our day-to-day and program  
priorities. Yet, many times we find ourselves working on  
low-priority goals or on activities unrelated to high-priority  
concerns. Sometimes we're aware of our busyness with non-  
priority items; but often we're pressured by others to "set our  
priorities."  
At this point, we exclaim, "I know ... but how can I set my  
priorities when everyone says everything is high priority!" These  
moments of frustration seem to be occurring more often.  
Increasing pressures by many people, and the growing  
complexity of problems and society make the Extension  
professional's priority setting more difficult.  
 
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This booklet is intended for Extension people who wish to  
deal with these problems and who wish to independently study  
and think about how a systematic process of setting priorities  
relates to their Extension jobs.  
The booklet has three sections that provide answers to  
these questions:  
I. What is priority setting?  
II. Why must we set priorities?  
III. How do we set priorities?  
This booklet stresses priority setting as a personal  
commitment made by professional Extension workers. Though  
Extension workers cooperate with clientele in developing  
programs and related activities, many Extension people don't  
implement programs unless they see them as their own personal  
priorities. Though many things influence and pressure Extension  
people, only an individual can decide whether a goal or activity  
is high priority and do something about it.  
This booklet discusses priority setting in the context of  
program development. This doesn't mean priority setting and  
program development are synonymous. They aren't. But the  
priority-setting process may register the most impact in a program  
development situation and the ideas are transferable to many  
short-range situations, such as "what do I do this week?"  
Furthermore, once a person has set program priorities, those  
priorities, plus the process s/he has mastered, influence the more  
immediate and day-to-day priorities.  
In Section 3, "How Do We Set Priorities?" a case example (a  
county home economist) is presented with each step in the 6-step  
process. Further case examples are outlined step by step  
following Section 3. If it will help you understand the steps, turn to  
the case study most like your own situation as you read.  
You may wish to review some sections lightly, others in  
more depth. Regardless of how much time you spend  
thinking about the ideas, you'll get the most from these pages  
by discussing them with others in similar positions, and most  
importantly by applying them to your specific Extension job  
situation.  
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What Is Priority Setting?  
Definition  
First, what is a priority? Dictionaries say it's:  
The state of being earlier in time, or of  
preceding something else.  
Precedence in order, rank, etc.  
The having of certain rights before another... a  
preferential rating, especially one that allocates rights  
and services usually in limited supply ... something  
meriting prior attention  
An Extension concept of priority setting is:  
A dynamic process of deciding what goals or actions  
are most important now, and a commitment of self  
and resources to that decision.  
Let's examine each part of the above statement.  
"
A Dynamic  
Priority setting in Extension is a complex professional  
responsibility. It's a continual process of subjective and  
interrelated decisions, a flexibility to respond to problems  
as they arise and before they arise. Priorities must be set in  
every phase of program development including: identifying  
target audiences, delineating needs, specifying goals, deter  
mining needed actions and following through with them, and  
even selecting the very small tasks to be done daily or weekly  
to accomplish goals.  
Process"  
Our personal job priorities affect others and theirs  
affect us. The priorities of Extension and our client groups  
may determine the money and other resources available to  
us. In turn, our program priorities affect the Extension  
system and the people we serve.  
"Deciding"  
All of us make decisions all our lives, some of them  
trivial and some very important. Based on our resources,  
limitations, and alternatives, we decide what we're going to  
wear in the morning, what to eat for breakfast, what TV  
channel to watch, what to do for fun on the weekend, what  
to do for a living, and how to vote.  
The main factors in a thoughtful decision are the same,  
whether the question to be decided is trivial or very important. A  
decision first involves possibilities or alternatives,  
for without alternatives there can be no choice.  
 
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For instance, we can return to the office after a day off  
and find the "in" basket filled with letters, booklets, phone call  
memos. These are priority alternatives. What to do first?  
We're helped to decide by knowing the nature of the letters  
and calls, the topics of the booklets, how we feel, and the  
schedule for the day ahead. These factors become the  
criteria for choice.  
Freedom to choose is a privilege and a responsibility.  
However, we're only as free as our resources, limitations, and  
alternatives allow. If the whole day is tied up with meetings,  
we may only have time to return one call. If our alternatives  
are broad, we have a greater responsibility for our choices and  
their consequences to others and ourselves. Depending on our  
roles, our decisions may affect only us, a few others, or even  
thousands of people.  
Making decisions in priority setting involves:  
1. Understanding the priority setting situation (what to  
do today?).  
2. Purpose or goal to be achieved (to use one free  
hour today most effectively).  
3
. Available alternatives (letters, booklets, phone calls,  
coffee break, or conversation).  
4
. Probable consequences of each alternative (I can  
make phone calls in the next hour, but I can't get  
through all those meetings without coffee).  
5
. Values to the decision maker of these probable  
consequences (my need for the coffee is more  
important than returning this call ... or this call is  
more important than my physical need).  
Priority setting as an application of decision making is  
particularly complex. The priorities already set, the numbers and  
needs of the people our current priority setting will affect, and the  
alternatives available to us all add to the complexity. In priority  
setting, decisions are made about what is most urgent and critical.  
What needs to be done first?  
"Goals and Actions"  
We need to set priorities on both goals and actions. A  
goal is what we hope to achieve; actions are how we achieve  
our goals. We first ask: "What needs doing? What results  
do we hope to get?" And then, "What must we do to achieve  
that end? How are we going to do it?"  
Sometimes we get involved in an activity for which we're  
unsure of the goal. This doesn't mean we're not goal-oriented,  
but it should force us to evolve a goal and decide more specific  
direction for the activity. If we don't, we'll continue  
to be busy without a sense of direction or achievement.  
Goals may be general or specific. Often specific goals  
are aimed at fulfilling a broader goal. For instance, our  
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general goal might be to improve the economy of a community. A  
specific goal to achieve that broader goal (for a community  
development agent) would be to improve the marketing procedures  
of small manufacturers or (for an agriculture agent) to improve the  
livestock production of farmers in the area.  
Goals may be long- or short-range. For example, a long-  
range goal might be for the community to provide cultural  
development activities for its citizens. We might anticipate  
building a civic theater or art center sometime in the future. But,  
a short-range goal to fulfill the same long-range objective might  
be to hold a successful summer art fair this year.  
Goals may be institutional or individual. If Extension's goal  
is to provide educational opportunities for low-income senior  
citizens, our individual program goal might be to sponsor  
education on low-cost nutrition for the elderly in our county. Or,  
if all the elderly folks in our county are well-off, we may not  
consider the institutional goal to be important in our programs.  
On the other hand, if our community has a large number of  
low-income people over 65, we might have initiated the goal for  
the institution. In Extension, these goals are interrelated.  
Actions help us achieve goals. Actions help us achieve  
goals and clarify goals. If we want to help the community get a  
cultural center (goal), we can consult with the city planning  
commission, citizens groups, and art clubs, and help them  
petition for a bond issue (actions). For our more immediate  
goals, we might help organize a summer art fair committee to  
get park space for displays, contact artists, and get concessions.  
The interrelationship of goals and actions becomes clearer if we  
see that the goals we set as priorities become, in turn, bases for  
setting priorities on our actions.  
Priority setting as a process relates to any one of the above  
types of goals and actions. But, we must see the difference  
between goals and actions to set priorities and stick to them. We  
can't, for instance, say that our home visits or county fair  
(
actions) are a higher priority than improving livestock marketing  
in a community (goal). That's like comparing apples and  
oranges. In setting priorities, we must compare goals with goals,  
and actions with actions.  
"
Most  
Setting priorities is a specific kind of decision making  
Important Now" with two dimensions: value and time. It's not only deciding  
what to do (what's most valuable and important), but what  
to do first (what's most important now), and how much time  
to give to it.  
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When we set a priority, we judge one possibility to be more  
important, urgent, or valuable than another at this time. We set  
priorities on both our goals and our actions, since priority implies  
a sequence of activities, first things first, as well as a ranking in  
importance. For instance, it's important to recruit 4-H leaders and  
to train them --but if there are no leaders to train in a particular  
project, it's more important to recruit them first so we can train  
them. But if the deadline for 4-H enrollment is tomorrow, getting  
the details settled will take priority over both recruiting and  
training.  
Priority setting, then, is:  
1
2
. Deciding what needs doing most.  
. Deciding what needs doing first.  
First, we look at our goals to see which is more urgent now.  
Second, we decide what more specific goals need to be  
achieved if that long-range goal is to be met. Third, actions must  
be designed to achieve the goals.  
How can we judge what's most important or critical now?  
One way is to recognize that priority setting implies looking  
ahead to see the future consequences of our actions or lack of  
action on a problem to help us judge its importance. What will  
happen if I don't call the farmer with corn root worm problems, but  
instead phone fair committee members to arrange a meeting for  
next week? If I don't call the farmer, his entire crop could be  
damaged-tomorrow could be too late. But I can still arrange next  
week's committee meeting tomorrow-or have someone else do the  
phoning. Seeing the consequences of our actions certainly helps  
us determine priorities. Sometimes we can only guess what the  
possible results of our action or lack of action will be. This is a risk  
that can be minimized by getting good in-formation about priority  
alternatives and comparing them (see page 21).  
The importance, sequence, and consequences of our  
goal setting and actions in setting priorities can be shown by  
how we make gardening decisions.  
First, we must decide on a goal: What do we want to  
harvest at season's end? Tomatoes and corn? But the garden  
plot is only 4 x 8 feet. Since tomatoes and corn mature at the  
same time, we won't have enough room for both. Which crop  
will save us more money at the supermarket? Since tomatoes  
are more expensive to buy and corn takes up too much room,  
we'll profit more from a tomato crop. Could an earlier harvest  
crop be planted to use available space before the tomatoes  
mature? How about a set of radishes, or some pole beans to  
climb up and save space?  
First things first! Now that we've decided what to plant, we  
must sequence activities to achieve the goal. We can buy seeds  
and start them indoors so they're big enough by planting  
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time, then till the soil, and fertilize in advance. All these things  
must be done in sequence to get the desired results at  
summer's end.  
Setting program priorities, of course, is a much more  
complex and far-reaching process than planning a garden, but it  
takes the same things into account.  
"
Commitment  
Priority setting is critical when many possible alternative  
goals exist and only limited resources to commit to them.  
At those times (and they're occurring more and more often),  
we must make a professional decision and a personal commitment  
to action. Though a group or organization like Extension  
sets constraints and parameters on what our priorities ought  
to be, only we can commit ourselves. Finally only we can  
decide: are we or aren't we going to do it?  
of Self and  
Resources  
As Extension educators, our priorities affect the lives of  
countless others. Our information for determining priorities  
comes from many people, groups, agencies, and institutions,  
including Extension. Our alternatives may be as broad as the  
society we serve. We're limited and guided by the goals of  
our organization, our job descriptions, the resources available,  
and the appropriateness of an activity to our clientele and  
their goals. But none of these decides for us or commits us  
to a priority. Only we can do that.  
Thus setting priorities means saying yes, now, to certain  
goals and related actions and then doing them in a first-things  
first sequence. It also implies reshuffling priorities so goals  
and actions of lesser importance get less time or fewer re  
sources, are done by someone else, or get a no. Deciding not  
to do something is as valid as deciding what to do. Deciding  
what to do means we won't have time to do certain other things.  
Summary  
Setting program priorities is a six-step process of considering  
various alternative goals and actions presented from  
many sources, allocating adequate resources and energy to the  
most important problems needing immediate attention, and  
committing our actions to get results. We must take into  
account previously set priorities (ongoing programs), crisis  
situations, the goals and thrusts of our institution and/or  
program area, past expectations of people, different interest  
groups to be served, and available resources or expertise, every  
time we consider a new priority alternative.  
Priority setting isn't easy, but it's necessary. Why?  
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Priority Setting - Why?  
There are many reasons to set priorities. Some are  
important to the clientele groups and larger society we serve;  
some are important for us to do our jobs well. These reasons  
fall into five categories:  
Changing Needs  
and Roles  
1. Priority setting is important to meet the changing  
needs and roles of our audiences.  
The world is changing at a faster pace than ever before.  
People change, their roles in life change, their needs and  
problems change. Problems are becoming more complex and  
interrelated as time goes by. People are better educated and  
demand more of us today than they did in the past-both in quality  
and quantity. New laws and regulations on the environment,  
population distribution, pesticides, etc., demand educational as  
well as legal input. The interrelatedness of problems and  
institutions creates more challenges for Extension professionals  
than in the past. No longer are our programs strictly rural oriented.  
The farm population has changed and shifted. Much of it has  
moved to the cities and towns. Farms are getting bigger and more  
specialized. The need for better farm production on less land is  
greater now than ever before, and the farmer's needs are more  
complex. People in big cities and small towns need help with their  
specific problems--and the problems are growing daily.  
If Extension is a problem-solving institution, and if Extension  
agents are indeed change agents, we must help people respond  
not only to present needs and crises, but also to problems of the  
future: How to deal with new technologies? What constitutes a  
healthy human being? How can we help people prepare for the  
changes the future will demand?  
But Extension resources are limited. We can't be all things to  
all people, even though the demands are great. Setting priorities  
and sticking to them is the only way to apply glue to a problem  
instead of a watery paste that spreads itself thin over many  
projects -and wears off in a short time.  
Extension priorities and our program priorities must not  
merely follow the trends of society. We must be in the advance  
guard of future problems, to prevent them before they occur or to  
help people meet them when they're inevitable. We must be  
flexible enough to respond to people's needs, but firm enough to  
stick with priorities and reach defined goals.  
 
Helps Prevent  
Crises  
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2
. Priority setting helps us prevent future crisis.  
President Kennedy once said he asked experts to advise  
him "not what should I do, but what will happen if I do?"  
We must take the consequences of our actions into  
account as we set priorities so we can make judgments about  
what we do in the present. What will happen if I do or don't  
do something?  
Doing something, for instance, may be the cause of a  
future crisis. What we envision as a cure may end up being  
worse than the disease. Phosphates brought us whiter wash  
loads, but with them came lake pollution. The dangers of  
DDT may be worse than the bugs it was supposed to destroy.  
On the other hand, a crisis may occur if we don't do  
something. If a riverside community doesn't build a dike or  
institute flood plain zoning, massive property and crop damage  
will surely result in a flood year. Or what will happen to productive  
farmlands if zoning and restrictions aren't instituted  
near urban areas?  
Seeing the effect of past actions on our present lives  
will help us look ahead to see the effect of our present  
actions on the future. Trying to see the future consequences  
of our present actions is an important part of setting priorities  
so that we can either prevent a crisis or avoid causing one. It  
will help us weigh risks and reduce uncertainty about the probability  
of future consequences occurring and thus make more  
rational decisions. We must also look ahead to the future  
needs of people and plan action now to meet those needs.  
For instance, if we know that advanced technology and in  
creased population will bring more unemployment, what can  
we do about it now? We also need to plan time for emerging,  
"
time-is-right" concerns. For instance, a fuel shortage causes  
people to be more urgently concerned about energy conservation  
or seeking new sources of energy. Can we plan our time  
to allow for educational efforts in conjunction with people's  
concern over the future?  
Helps  
3. Priority setting helps our credibility and  
accountability.  
Credibility and  
Accountability  
We set priorities to get concrete results on important  
problems. These results will be noticed by those who demand we be  
accountable for our programs: Extension administration,  
legislatures, the county board, our clientele, and our community.  
More and more, people external to Extension are holding us  
accountable for program results they see as important. They ask:  
What are you doing? What do you have to show for the resources  
we've invested? What difference have you made in the lives of  
people you work with and for? Are your activities worth the tax  
dollars or grants provided to support them? Our credibility increases  
when we show results and measure  
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up to what we've said our priorities are. If others help us set  
priorities and are aware of them, they can see how we meet  
those priorities. They'll see how we apply our resources to  
problems and "put our money where our mouth is." Successful  
activities build credibility, trust, and cooperation. Our credibility  
will be high only if we actually carry out actions other people  
can see, to meet goals they recognize as important.  
Makes Our  
Jobs Easier  
4. Priority setting helps make our Extension jobs easier.  
If we commit ourselves, and use our commitments to  
guide our activities, it will be easier for us to know what to  
do and when to do it. First, we must commit ourselves to  
setting some priorities and then to carrying out a few selected  
priority programs. Having a priority set and seeing it as critically  
important helps us make time to carry it out. If a choice is  
congruent with our own values and what we determine is  
important, commitment to the priority decision will come  
easily.  
Setting priorities helps the person burdened with too  
many tasks break those tasks down by importance and get  
the most important things done first. It helps those locked  
into traditional activities, by habit or demand, become more  
open to new and changing priority problems. We can plan  
our programs more realistically and develop plans of work  
that tell what actually needs to be done to reach priority  
goals, and what actions we've designed to meet those goals.  
Our jobs become easier if others are aware of our priorities  
and adjust their expectations accordingly. We must discover  
the priorities of others, use them to decide ours, and communicate  
ours to them if we expect their involvement and help.  
Helps Allocate  
and Coordinate  
Resources  
5. Priority setting helps us allocate resources,  
coordinate our programs with others, and provide  
balanced programming.  
Setting priorities on the most critical needs and problems,  
and then setting priorities on our activities, allows us more  
efficient use of our limited resources. If we set priorities, back-up  
help, money, time, and cooperation with other agencies or the  
organization will be better coordinated and more likely to be  
available when we need them. Knowing the priorities of Extension  
and other personnel, and letting them know our priorities will help  
coordinate county, area, and statewide programs to deal with  
problems of most urgency. We're not setting priorities by  
ourselves.  
For instance, in light of predicted food shortages and high  
prices, an agricultural agent can plan programs to improve  
livestock production; a community development agent  
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can concentrate on land use planning to save precious farm  
acreage; a home agent might program on low-cost nutrition; and a  
horticulture specialist could help people use home gardens as a  
supplement to store-bought food. All can work together on  
education for actions to relieve one acute community problem with  
dire future consequences. Such coordination in planning priority  
programs for an entire community, or even for an entire state, will  
help reach all segments of the population who need help, despite a  
limited amount of time, staff, and other resources. One agent or  
specialist can't do this alone.  
Summary  
Setting priorities as individuals and as an organization  
helps us aim our limited resources at the most critical problems.  
By so doing, we'll increase our impact, be more efficient  
and more credible, reach more people, help prevent crises,  
enjoy our work more, minimize risk and uncertainty, plan  
more realistically, keep our work up to date with changing  
needs, and use our resources more wisely. These are reasons  
why we need to set priorities. But how do we do it?  
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How Do We Set Priorities?  
Priority setting is a personal commitment to act on  
those goals and related actions we've ranked as most im-  
mediately important. We can make these commitments if we  
see priority setting as a priority concern in our jobs.  
Assuming such a commitment exists, the six-step process  
described below can enhance priority setting, whether the  
context is annual plans of work, this week's schedule, or  
long-range program emphases.  
Priority setting is a process we must continually apply to all  
our efforts throughout a year. However, one of the most critical  
applications of rational priority setting is in the prograin  
development process.  
Program development involves identifying the critical  
problems in a community, area, or state over the next two or  
three years, setting appropriate goals, and deciding activities to  
solve them. Within program development, priority setting  
involves deciding what goals are most urgent and which activities  
must be done first. Priority setting is discussed below in a  
program development context, but the same steps can be applied  
to our daily, weekly, or monthly time frames.  
Each of the following six steps involves deciding what  
needs to get done and what needs doing first to get results:  
Step 1. Understanding the priority-setting situation.  
Step 2. Identifying the possible priorities.  
Step 3. Identifying criteria for selecting priorities.  
Step 4. Determining the relative importance of priorities.  
Step 5. Reflecting on priorities: consequences and timing.  
Step 6. Commitment to action on priorities.  
 
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Step One: understanding the  
priority setting situation  
Though the priority-setting situation varies, the things we  
should know about it don't. To really understand the task  
confronting us means understanding whether we're determining  
goals or our actions or both, the situation we're in, and the  
sources of influence on our job.  
Goals and Actions  
Goals are where we hope to get; actions are how we  
get there. Yet many believe that actions, such as radio  
programming, are goals in themselves. To understand our  
priority- setting situation, we must differentiate between our  
goals and actions, even though they're closely interrelated.  
Our actions help us achieve our goals. Our goals give direction  
to our actions. But we're often so busy with busyness that  
it's hard to get down to business-the business of deciding  
the most important goals and the best sequence of activities  
to achieve them.  
Stopping to ask why we're doing something will lead  
to more purposeful activity-more business and less busyness.  
We're all involved in many repetitious, carryover, and  
ongoing activities. We answer phone calls, visit clients, attend  
meetings, plan fair exhibits, design materials, give speeches,  
make radio and TV programs-but to what end? Every time  
we undertake an activity we should ask ourselves: Why am  
I doing this? Is it because I'm expected to do it? Is it because  
Extension has always done it? Is it because this is the best  
means to a specific end-or has the activity become an end  
in itself9  
For instance, when we plan the county fair, we must  
stop to think whether we're doing this planning for the sake  
of the county fair or is the fair only a means to a more im  
portant goal. If that goal is defined as "giving information,"  
we should pursue the goals of the fair even further. What  
information? To whom? Why? What bigger goals will this  
information help achieve? Are those goals more important  
than other goals?  
When we try to decide what's most important now, we  
must first ask why we're doing it. Then we must ask: "Is  
this why (the goal, objective, problem) really a top priority or  
do other important problems need more immediate attention?  
Once the important priority goals have been set, then  
deciding ways (actions) to meet those goals will come more  
easily. Deciding on the methods is also a matter of setting  
priorities. We will be better able to sift through the never-  
 
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ending heap of busyness activities to find and use those that  
must come first if we're to meet defined goals. Everything else,  
of necessity, becomes a lower priority.  
The Situation  
Understanding our priority-setting situation also means  
We're In knowing first what present priorities and commitments we  
have and second the resources available to carry them out.  
Realistically, we're already involved in countless activities,  
hopefully related to important goals. We never start with a  
clean slate. But have we examined them lately? Do our  
commitments already outweigh our limited resources? All we may  
know about our activities is that we have too much to do.  
Too many important things get shuffled aside from lack of  
time or commitment to do something about them ... or  
else we're running ourselves ragged trying to give a little to  
each of our commitments without making major commitments  
to the most critical needs. If this isn't true for you, you  
don't have a priority- setting problem. But if you can't keep  
up with all your current commitments, let alone start new  
ones, you should examine your present commitments carefully.  
There are several types of current commitments: carry-  
over, repetitions, and emerging. Many priority goals and ac-  
tivities carry over from one month or year to another. We have  
made prior commitments (prior = priority). We're called on to do  
many of the same things year after year because people have  
come to expect our help in such areas as food preservation,  
pest control, etc., by habit or tradition (repetitious). We become  
aware that people are more ready this year to do something  
about a problem than they were two years ago when we first  
thought of it (emerging).  
Perhaps the greatest current commitments are our long-  
range goals and activities. If we're concerned about what to do  
today, we should be guided by the commitments we've made  
for six weeks or a year from today.  
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In setting priorities, we can treat the ongoing commitments in  
several ways. We can ignore them and pretend we're starting with a  
clean slate. Realistically, selecting this alternative could prove to be  
the ticket to a quick exit from Extension, for we often make  
commitments to get or keep others' support.  
A second way is to consider our present commitments as  
possible priorities, along with other emerging and new concerns.  
Selecting this option means some present commitments eventually  
will be rated lower priority. If so, we'll need to tactfully explain to  
certain constituent groups why we can no longer give as much time  
as they expect to their high priority goals and activities.  
A third way to treat prior or ongoing commitments is to  
recognize some are going to take your time no matter what you do.  
Therefore, you may simply wish to set aside a certain percentage  
of your time for them (40%-70%) and think only of the remaining  
portion of your time as you set new priority goals and related  
activities.  
Regardless of the approach, all traditional, repetitious, and  
ongoing activities and commitments, as well as emerging  
concerns, must be considered when setting new priorities.  
Besides looking at ongoing and current commitments, you  
should also take a good look at the resources available. How  
much time do you have? Back up support? Dollars for travel and  
supplies? Listing your resources provides a practical tool not only  
for assessing your own situation, but also for explaining that  
situation to others.  
Comparing both lists--your current commitments and the  
resources at your disposal-will help you more clearly describe  
the situation you're in, deal more effectively with setting  
priorities for the near- and long-range future, and allocate or  
redirect your resources wisely.  
Four Sources  
of Influence  
Though Extension educators must make hard professional  
decisions on priorities, they don't act alone during any of  
the priority-setting steps. Many sources of pressure and influence are  
responsible for the activities we're already involved in, but they also  
provide information, criteria, alternatives, resources, and cooperation  
for our priorities.  
The following four sources, shown in Exhibit 1, influence  
our program priorities:  
1
2
3
4
. The community(s) or society at large.  
. Specific clientele or interest groups.  
. The Extension organization.  
. Self (one's own values, interests, concerns).  
The  
Extension role we play (our priority goals and activities) is influenced  
by these four major sources.  
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Community  
The community and society at large give us certain  
and Society norms of expected behavior, provide our funding and thus  
our accountability problems, and offer ideas about unmet  
societal or community priorities. This source presents the  
most general and ambiguous signals about our priorities.  
Specific  
The specific clientele groups include such groups as a  
Clientele particular neighborhood, organization, type of business, farm  
Groups operation, or age, income, or ethnic group. The clientele  
groups provide more direct signals and pressures about our  
priorities and their priorities are most apt to offer direct  
conflicting pressures.  
Extension  
The Extension organization gives us our job description,  
Organization our budget, our professional rewards, and back-up support.  
Sometimes, however, these benefits demand things of us that  
may conflict with clientele group or community pressures.  
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Self  
The fourth influence on our jobs and our priorities is  
ourselves. Our own values, interests, needs, experience, back  
ground, and time often present us with different priorities  
than those that occur to the other three sources of influence.  
At times, the pressures from the other three groups overwhelm  
our personal priorities. But no matter how our priorities and  
theirs differ, no matter how much we end up doing "their  
thing," it's important to recognize that we make the decision  
to act or not to act. Thus, whatever we decide becomes a  
personal priority to us, whether we like it or not, simply be  
cause we've opted to do it.  
Often our biggest problem is to set program priorities  
among the myriad possibilities presented by the sources of  
influence. These sources may voluntarily come forth with  
suggestions or demands for programs on problems of priority  
concern to them. These suggestions and demands are the alternatives  
aren't to be looked on as "bad," even though they'll cause  
us problems by suggesting more than we can possibly do. In  
fact, they're absolutely necessary and helpful sources of  
influence. If all our sources, such as potential clientele, don't  
come forth, we should involve them more during the priority  
setting process to help ensure that the priorities we set are  
truly important. They'll also provide legitimation and resources  
for our programs.  
CASE STUDY: Mary Ann Walker, Home Economist  
STEP 1:  
Understanding  
the priority-  
Mary Ann Walker, an Extension home economist is busy with  
dress revues, county fair activities, nutrition workshops, phone  
calls, home visits, and newsletters for homemakers in her  
county. setting situation  
She has many repetitious and ongoing activities. These  
are her  
methods for achieving her goals.  
Like most home economists, she plans programs on an annual basis. She has to  
set priorities on what problems or concerns she will deal with in the coming year, but  
also on what methods and activities she'll use to accomplish her goals.  
She has other priority-setting situations during the year. Each day or week she  
also has to decide how important certain goals are at that time, and how important  
certain activities are to accomplish them.  
Mary Ann has to identify exactly what priorities she's trying to set: goals or  
actions.  
Let's look at the sources of influence on Mary  
Ann.  
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Her programming interests are community-wide and her programs must reflect  
the interests of the community at large. They're geared toward the society's getting  
adequate food, clothing, and shelter; the future of family life; food and nutrition;  
consumer problems; education; and the well-being of people in social groups. She can  
get information about community-wide priorities from representatives of the community:  
elected officials, Extension committees, county boards, government agencies, advisory  
groups, surveys, news media, scientific and social research, and many others.  
Mary Ann's specific clientele groups might include the elderly, families, teachers,  
homemakers, young marrieds, low-income people, and youth groups. She might also  
deal with other specific clientele, such as social workers, family counselors, or consumer  
groups, who deal with one or more of her specific clientele groups. They can help further  
her program efforts, as well as provide input and resources for them.  
The influences from the Extension organization are Mary Ann's county office  
chairperson, her co-workers, district director, program area leader, research and  
specialist personnel from the University, administrators, and her job description, which  
outlines what she was hired to do.  
The fourth source of influence on Mary Ann's job is Mary Ann herself. Her own  
values, interests, priorities, and perceptions of what's important for her community are  
important factors to consider when she plans programs. She must draw on her past  
experience in the community, her training, and the requests, demands, information, and  
policies presented to her from the other sources of influence. She's a major contributor to  
the priority-setting process, as well as a receiver. As the subjective decision maker, she'll  
use the objective information, the sources of influence, and the process to set her  
priorities.  
Mary Ann's problem was to plan her program priorities for the coming year(s).  
Before she began selecting alternative priorities from which to choose, she had to define  
the situation she was in, by knowing whether it was her goals or actions she was  
deciding, by knowing her resources and commitments. She took into account the  
repetitive, ongoing, and traditional activities in which she was already involved. She  
differentiated these activities from the problems or goals they were designed to meet.  
She considered the four sources of influence on her job as channels of communication  
from which the suggested priority alternatives would be discovered.  
Mary Ann described to herself the following situation as she looked ahead to the  
coming year:  
Available time for planning = 240 days (less vacation & sick  
days)  
Current commitments  
Time committed  
County fair  
Homemakers Council  
Homemakers leader training  
25 days  
5 days  
30 days  
20 days  
30 days  
20 days  
20 days  
4-H leader training  
Radio and newsletters  
Unplanned phone calls  
4-H activities  
Professional association and  
Extension committees  
6 days  
Total time committed  
156 days  
Time remaining for other  
priority goals and activities  
84 days  
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step two: identifying the possible priorities  
Getting  
The situation we're in is due to pressures or influences  
Information From working on us and our jobs in many direct and indirect ways.  
Influence Sources Influences from the four sources can be positive aids to priority  
setting, not just pressures and demands.  
But to make these pressures positive, we should take the  
initiative to determine what these sources think our priority  
goals and activities should be.  
The process of identifying possible priorities can be com  
plex if we're trying to identify program goal priorities for the  
next year or so. But the same principles apply to simpler  
situations, such as designing daily or weekly activities to meet  
goals.  
Identifying priority alternatives doesn't mean simply  
developing a "list." We need to discover the potential con  
sequences and the relative importance of the possible priorities.  
Relative  
Different groups and sources of influence will inevitably  
Importance identify different priorities; some overlap will occur. One  
group may see a possible priority as very valuable and attractive,  
while another may see the same alternative as unimportant. For  
each possible priority we identify, we'll need information about its  
relative importance, who it's important to,and its degree of urgency.  
Potential of  
Priority information about:  
Alternatives  
Depending on how critical the problem is, we'll need  
1
. The probability of the priority alternative actually  
happening if selected. Is the alternative acceptable to  
people with the most influence on our jobs? Are  
barriers, people, lack of time or interest, conflicts  
with other ongoing programs, or lack of resources  
likely to prevent it, even if it's very important?  
2
. The consequences of the priority alternative if selected.  
We need to know what will happen to the people we  
work. with, to Extension, to ourselves, and to the  
community if we choose a particular priority. On the  
other hand, what will happen if other possibilities  
receive higher priority? Will neglecting a possibility  
bring dire consequences in the future?  
 
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These questions aren't easy to answer. You may not get  
satisfactory answers to them for all your priority alternatives, but  
knowing the importance and probable consequences will help  
you decide. You don't always need hard data to answer these  
questions. Even if you could get hard data, your own subjectivity  
and judgment would affect your eventual choice. There's no  
neat, concise, mathematical formula available to help you set  
your priorities. The relative attractiveness and potential  
consequences of each priority alternative will, in most cases, be  
your own perception and the perceptions of others. Recognize it!  
Ways To Get  
We can find out the high priorities of the four sources  
Information of influence, the degree of importance the sources attach to  
each possibility, and their ideas about the consequences of  
an alternative in many ways. We must use those methods to  
identify their priority concerns, priority goals, and activities  
before coming up with a list of priority possibilities from which  
we'll select our high priorities.  
Four general approaches can help identify priority  
possibilities and related information.  
Existing  
To avoid duplicating others' efforts, check data banks,  
Information prior surveys, studies, or research done by Extension or  
other agencies, to get information applicable to your situation  
and the sources of influence on your job.  
Surveys  
You can get information about potential audiences and  
their opinions and attitudes about priorities, by telephone  
surveys, mail questionnaires, or personal interviews. Be sure  
you know exactly who you want to survey and what you  
want to find out from them. Sampling is the most efficient  
way to survey the community as a whole or particular client  
groups.  
A more complicated, but useful, survey approach for  
setting priorities is the Focus Delphi Process, which involves  
returning to the same respondents three or four times to get  
their reactions to priorities identified earlier and to get their  
information about priorities as you begin to narrow down  
possible alternatives.  
Observation  
You can get useful facts for priority setting by reading  
newspaper letters to the editor, counting the number of news  
stories about a topic, listening to radio call-in shows, studying  
participation numbers for past learning experiences on a topic,  
checking the popularity of particular library books, and looking  
at election results. Such observations may tell us more about  
past priorities and opinions (which have a bearing on the  
present and future) than they tell us about anticipated needs,  
however.  
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Approaching  
Four major types of groups can give us information  
Groups about community or interest-group priorities:  
Existing voluntary organizations. Organizations such as  
the local Chamber of Commerce, the Audubon Society, other  
conservation groups, social action or citizen pressure groups,  
consumer organizations, service clubs, and other community  
groups are usually ready for involvement on topics of interest  
to them. Though such groups have vested interests in particular  
areas and will express biases about priorities, a good cross  
section of different types of groups will give you a balance  
of priority possibilities from which to choose.  
Extension advisory groups. Advisory groups are used  
in most states and counties to build cooperation among client  
groups, local leaders, and Extension professionals. Advisory  
committees on priorities for specific problem and subject  
areas also give input on priorities. Examples are 4-H leader  
councils, livestock improvement associations, homemaker  
groups, and rural development committees. Such groups pro  
vide high involvement, but if they're not handled properly  
may be time-consuming and merely serve to maintain the  
status quo.  
Task forces. These are small ad hoc groups assigned a  
specific task for a relatively short period of time, thus differing from  
ongoing advisory groups. Because they're small and the tasks are  
specific, such groups are efficient and usually involve very  
interested or knowledgeable citizens from the general population or  
from specific clientele groups.  
Open meetings. These meetings can get public response  
for or against issues, offer a chance to share feelings, and allow  
all people to speak out. However, the highly interested are  
usually the only ones to speak and the nonsocial ones don't  
come.  
Ways To  
Several tested techniques are particularly useful to clarify  
Approach Groups priorities within each of the above group approaches:  
Brainstorming. Needs a skilled leader to encourage people  
to suggest all possible priorities regardless of their feasibility.  
Judgments and conclusions about the merits of suggested  
possible priorities are postponed until all the ideas have been  
heard.  
Nominal groups. This is an excellent way to get at perceived  
priorities, especially from nonvocal people who come  
to a meeting. A large group meeting is divided into smaller  
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groups who write their perceived priorities on cards. These  
individual priorities are then consolidated on large sheets of  
paper or a blackboard to be reviewed, discussed, clarified, and  
voted on by the larger group to decide the most crucial priority  
problems. Individual, as well as group, priorities are identified  
with less threat to participants than an open discussion or  
brainstorming.  
Guided discussion. This kind of discussion can bring out  
perceived ideas on priorities, especially when background  
information about trends and predictions for the future are  
brought into the discussion. People can analyze and discuss  
how trends such as fuel shortages or societal directions might  
affect their local situation. The method also helps people  
examine what's important for their community, what they really  
want or don't want to happen, and what they can do to cause or  
prevent it.  
Combinations. Combinations of these approaches and  
techniques are possible. For instance, a guided discussion  
could use existing data in a brainstorming session with a  
voluntary organization. Or survey data may be needed to  
supplement attitudes and expressed priorities discovered in an  
open meeting. Don't ignore natural, everyday listening,  
conversation, and observation as useful ways to identify  
priorities.  
Two-Way  
Communication  
If priority setting in program development is to be  
successful, you can't simply "go get" the information and then set  
priorities. You must not only get input from sources; you need to  
share information with them.  
You must make your own needs known to the sources of  
influence. For example, the groups you work with must know  
that their role is advisory, not dictatorial. They must clearly  
understand that others will have something to say about your  
priorities too.  
Each group must understand why you are setting pri-  
orities-that there are more demands on your time than you can  
handle and you must make important choices. If each group  
understands that so many hours in your day win be divided  
among many programs and activities and that you can make a  
major commitment of your time to only a few critically  
important problems with wide impact, you can avoid alienation  
later when you have to choose certain priorities over others.  
Your sources must know the difference between goals and  
actions. You need suggestions about important priority needs  
and concerns if setting program goals is your focus. Or you  
might need suggestions about events and activities if  
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setting priority actions is your focus. You must help them  
understand the difference between the relative importance of  
a concern and its urgency or criticalness now. You must find  
out what priorities your sources will be committed to helping  
carry out later.  
Once your priorities are set, you must communicate those  
priorities back to your sources of influence, particularly your fellow  
professionals, because they also provide needed support and  
resources. They'll be more willing to support your priorities if  
they've had some say in what your priorities are and understand  
how and why they were chosen. They can't provide support if  
they're not even aware of your priorities. In fact, the biggest  
reason priorities aren't followed through is because others don't  
know our priorities or expect different priorities.  
Some feel we can't say no to someone for fear it will hurt  
our public relations. However, if we communicate with our client  
groups about our resource-commitment ratio and our need to  
make more effective input on priorities, our public relations may  
be enhanced more than if we make weak responses to many  
demands. Public relations may be a top priority but it will be  
enhanced more by effective, results-oriented programming on  
priorities than by our mere presence at a meeting.  
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CASE STUDY: Mary Ann Walker, Home Economist (cont.)  
STEP 2:  
Mary Ann Walker knew where to go to find alternative  
priority  
Identifying the  
possible priorities  
.
concerns, but she had to be careful when approaching her  
sources to find out their perceived priorities. She had to make  
sure the priorities she finally chose would get support.  
Self- Mary Ann started with herself to find her own priority concerns and interests.  
She took an inventory of her current commitments and noted which ones she'd like to  
carry further. She examined her own programming interests: the things she liked to do  
and got rewards from doing. She noted the things she thought were worthwhile and  
needed by the community. She read newspapers, books, newsmagazines and journals;  
watched television documentaries; talked with people; kept up to date on societal needs  
and related them to the needs of her own community and specific clientele. Mary Ann's  
own personal values, interests, and perceptions of what's important would greatly affect  
her commitment to the priorities finally set.  
Society & Community- Mary Ann has been constantly in touch with the needs of  
her community through contacts with her Extension committee, county board, and  
certain civic groups and service clubs. At priority-setting time, she surveyed community  
needs by geographic area or municipality. She used the brainstorming method with her  
advisory groups to discover and define specific needs of communities and the county.  
She checked to see how many of those were related to state or societal needs in  
general.  
Specific clientele- Mary Ann maintained contact with representatives of the specific  
clientele groups she served throughout her experience as home econornist. She risked all  
these groups, including those with whom she might conduct programs even if she hadn't  
programmed with each of them. Her own memory also provided a good list of priority  
needs. Still, she felt each group should be contacted at program planning time, especially  
those with whom she had no recent contact. She called on the fair board, 4-H council,  
women's groups, Homemakers Clubs, social action and service agencies, consumer  
groups, and representatives of the elderly and minorities. She used statistical data for  
information about specific groups of people in her community and their needs.  
Extension organization- Mary Ann knew the priorities of her state Extension  
organization and her program area. Statewide program planning committees, memos,  
district meetings, contact with state specialists, and her fellow agents in and near her  
county kept her in touch with needs she would find in her own county. By knowing what  
state specialists were saying, what trends they discovered, what programs and materials  
they were working on, what resources they'd be ready to provide, and what had been done  
in other counties that might be useful to her, she found it easier to discover and meet her  
own programming needs. The national Extension Home Economics Focus II helped her  
recognize national or societal needs and their relationships to needs of her community.  
All these sources of influence provided information for Mary Ann. But she needed to  
be sure which source carried more weight in helping her decide priorities. Perhaps she  
values her own principles and ideas more than any of the others'. Perhaps she gets the  
most support and recognition from the Extension organization. Perhaps she's most  
concerned with a few clientele groups with which she's been successful or whose needs  
she sees as most critical. It may be that her overview of society and the future makes her  
more aware of the total society's needs over the particular needs of its segments. She  
examined these influences on her priorities. They would affect her objectivity, but she was  
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After checking with all her sources and viewing the overlap among the suggested  
alternative goals for the next several years, Mary Ann found herself weighting input  
from Extension and specific client groups more, her own input second, and societal  
input the least. She came up with the following priority possibilities:  
1
2
3
4
. Adequate nutrition for teenagers.  
. Low-income family nutrition.  
. Consumer education.  
. Improved child-parent relationships.  
5
6
7
8
. Housing for elderly.  
. Crafts and arts.  
. Prenatal care programs.  
. Role of women.  
9. Estate planning.  
1
1
1
1
0. Use of credit.  
1. Home safety.  
2. Adjusting to social change.  
3. Family planning.  
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Step Three: identifying criteria for selecting priorities  
Rules of  
the Game  
Once we've identified possible priority alternatives, the  
next difficult question is: How do we choose among them?  
How do we assign relative value to each? How do we determine  
the urgency of one important priority over another?  
We can only choose by determining the rules of the  
game in advance. These rules are called criteria.  
Identifying  
Criteria  
Identifying what criteria we'll use to select priorities  
may be the most critical of the six priority-setting steps. The  
criteria are the bases on which we select priorities and the  
defense for our eventual choice. The criteria are the reasons  
we designate certain goals and activities as higher priority  
than others.  
For instance, if the criteria of immediate need, economic  
benefits, and numbers affected are identified as most important, we  
might choose a program on weed-free, optimum  
fertility corn production for 1,000 area farmers, rather than  
a home gardening program for 400 families. That choice  
might be reversed if only 100 corn growers were affected as  
opposed to 1500 home gardeners, or if the criteria of economic  
benefits were changed to personal satisfaction and productive  
leisure benefits.  
Weighting  
Criteria  
Thus, we must carefully select and weight the criteria  
we use to choose. Aside from our actual priority possibilities,  
the criteria we select have the greatest effect on our eventual  
priorities.  
Particular criteria are important in themselves, but even  
more important is who says so. Eventually, you'll decide which  
criteria carry more weight than others, but the sources of  
criteria will help you do that weighing.  
Therefore, the sources of possible priority alternatives  
are also the sources of criteria. Some of the same approaches,  
techniques, and channels of communication used to identify  
possible priorities can also be used to identify criteria.  
An additional technique, "value clarification," is most  
useful to identify criteria. Value clarification can be used to  
identify the importance of your own criteria and to help  
others identify theirs. Briefly, the technique forces you to  
examine what's most valuable and important to your life  
 
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and to publicly acknowledge those feelings to others so that  
underlying personal values become guides to your behavior.  
You don't need to make two trips, one for priority concerns  
and another for criteria to make choices. Both steps can be  
integrated into some of the same activities. By involving the four  
sources of influence in identifying possible priorities and criteria  
for selecting among them, you'll establish a situation for these  
same groups to support the commitments you make later.  
To help ensure that the priorities you select are truly the best  
ones, and to avoid alienation of specific groups, it's wise to select  
a balanced group of criteria that reflects social, economic,  
environmental, and human development concerns. Some  
examples are: environmental protection, benefits to groups and  
community organizations, learning and educational development,  
health and safety, enhancement of human values, etc. If your  
criteria are too heavily loaded in one direction (that is, economic  
concerns with disregard for the environment or vice versa), a  
group with broader or different interests might well be alienated-or  
your priorities may not be the best ones.  
But it's a different-and necessary-matter to identify which  
criteria will carry more weight in your decision, which ones are most  
critical at this time. If you don't, you either won't be able to  
determine your priorities or else you may end up with mediocre,  
watered-down program goals and actions.  
Some other examples of criteria are: readiness of client  
groups, availability of resources and back up support, time  
necessary, volunteers committed to needed task, contribution to  
Extension or program area mission, improvement of social  
equality, personal satisfaction or rewards, expertise, budget,  
contribution to the solution of other problems, etc.  
Criteria come from the four sources of influence on the job.  
Your task in Step 3, then, is to identify and list the criteria from  
each source of influence (including yourself) and to weigh their  
importance, depending on their source, your job situation, and the  
priority-setting situation you face.  
Though no formula exists to objectively identify and weigh  
criteria, the funnel idea in Exhibit 2 shows how the criteria you  
select from the four sources of influence are like screens or filters  
in a funnel.  
The criteria from the community and society are broadest in  
nature and allow the most projects and possible priorities through.  
The specific client groups you work with offer the next set of  
criteria to screen possible priorities. They're more specific and thus  
more discriminating. They may even conflict with each other or  
with criteria from the other sources.  
The third source-the Extension organization-also has  
criteria to screen out certain alternatives that don't fit the  
Extension mission or resources.  
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Summary  
The final filter, however, is you. Only you can weigh all  
the priority alternatives that get through the other screens.  
Only you can decide your program priorities.  
Every situation in which we obtain criteria for setting  
priorities involves the following points:  
1
2
3
4
. Criteria come from the four sources of influence on  
our jobs. Each has its own criteria, just as each has its  
own priorities to suggest.  
. We can use various approaches and techniques to  
identify, clarify, and weight criteria from the four  
sources.  
. Criteria will differ, depending on the source of  
influence's interests, purpose, problem, job, and  
other factors.  
. All situations involve getting criteria from one's self.  
You can't escape the need to clarify what's critical  
and important to you. Therefore, some value  
clarification is in order as you define your criteria and  
help others define theirs.  
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5
. Criteria can be both subjective (personal and societal  
values, feelings, beliefs, opinions, and desires) and  
objective (surveys, facts, research, scientific predictions,  
trends, and real experiences).  
6
. When several sources indicate the same criterion, it  
may indicate that criterion's importance.  
7
. The person setting priorities is the center of the  
process. That person must coordinate the selection  
and relationships of criteria to possible priorities.  
8
. Criteria will differ in value or importance. If you  
don't manage how they've weighed, others will  
dictate their importance to you.  
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CASE STUDY. Mary Ann Walker, Home Economist(cont.)  
STEP 3:  
Mary Ann Walker identified criteria from her sources of influence  
Identifying  
criteria for  
selecting priorities  
through meetings, personal contacts, follow-up visits, phone calls,  
and reading. The criteria she found most critical for her priority-setting  
process were phrased as questions for each source of influence:  
Community and Society  
1
2
3
. How many people will be affected?  
. What's this alternative's relationship to national and state priorities and goals?  
. How will it be accepted or supported by the community?  
4. Is it a recognized need in the community?  
Specific Clientele  
. Does it solve these specific clients' problem (s)?  
. Will it prevent further problems?  
. Will these clients accept it as a priority concern? Are they ready for it?  
1
2
3
4. Will it agree with or oppose these clients' personal values, such as consumer rights,  
economic benefits, and environmental protection?  
Extension Organization  
. Does this alternative fit the Extension and program area mission?  
. Is this alternative educational?  
. Can I get the resources to do it?  
1
2
3
4. Does it relate to current state Extension thrusts?  
5. Is research or information available to deal with it?  
6. Does it relate to other Extension programs or concerns?  
7. Is it a balanced, equal opportunity program?  
Self  
1
2
3
4
. Does this alternative fall into my job description?  
. Am I personally concerned or interested?  
. Do I have the expertise necessary to adequately deal with it?  
. Does it interrelate with other activities I'm involved in?  
5. Does it fit my personal values of human dignity, social equality, and cultural  
development?  
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t
Step Four: determining the relative importance of  
priorities  
A priority is something that's most important now.  
Though the two dimensions, value and time, may be deter-  
mined simultaneously, it's easier to see the difference when  
they're considered separately.  
In this step you actually assign relative importance to  
priority alternatives.  
What is valuable or important is a difficult philosophical  
question. At one time, people relied on dogma and religion to guide  
their decisions on what was important in their lives. With the  
advent of scientific observation and empirical research, however,  
we now find it difficult to accept as valuable anything that can't be  
scientifically proven. This is particularly true in Extension because  
of our traditional commitment to research and newly tested  
knowledge.  
Science Can't  
Though scientific research and statistical data treatment  
Prove Value have contributed much to our knowledge of the world and  
ourselves, they have not and will not be able to determine for  
us what's most important. We can use a scientific method to  
discover facts, possible priorities, and criteria, but we must  
be aware that our own personal values and biases and those  
of others will determine the relative importance or value of  
priorities. No matter what conclusion we reach about the  
relative importance of certain priorities, that conclusion is  
based on certain human assumptions. We must make every  
effort to be more aware of our own values and to help others  
understand theirs if we're to make rational decisions on  
priorities.  
Importance  
Step 4 in priority setting, assigning relative value and  
Through importance, is essentially one of reasoning and logical thinking  
Reasoning based on human assumptions and values in the form of criteria.  
The following examples illustrate how certain criteria  
help determine the relative value of possible priority alternatives.  
 
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Example 1  
Priority alternatives: Program on wise pesticide use vs.  
farming efficiency through pesticide use.  
Criterion:  
Environmental protection.  
Conclusion:  
Wise use of pesticides will help protect  
the environment. The farm efficiency  
program may not. Therefore, the wise  
use of pesticides program is more  
important.  
Example 2  
Priority alternatives: 4-H Camp discussions on life goals  
and skills vs. shuffleboard tournament.  
Criterion:  
Enhancement of individual values.  
Conclusion:  
Discussion of life goals helps individuals  
understand personal values, while  
shuffleboard may not. Therefore, camp  
discussions on life goals are more  
important.  
Example 3  
Priority alternatives: Estate planning program vs. farm  
management program for low-income  
farmers,  
Criterion:  
Socioeconomic equality.  
Conclusion:  
Programming for low-income farmers will  
enhance socioeconomic equality better  
than an estate planning program  
The conclusion of whether a priority alternative is high or  
low in importance depends on whether it meets an identified  
criterion. Obviously, each conclusion can be changed if another  
criterion is added or if another source of influence weighs that  
criterion differently. The reasoning process can quickly become  
very complex, so make sure your criteria are well identified in  
advance.  
The reasoning process occurs within the funnel described  
in Step 3. Each possible priority alternative is passed through the  
screens of the funnel (selected criteria of each source of  
influence). If the priority possibility meets the criteria, it passes. If  
it doesn't it's thrown out or blocked in the funnel. You're the final  
filter. Your own criteria will help you select the most important  
priorities from those alternatives that pass through the criteria of  
the other three sources.  
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There are many ways to get possible priorities and criteria  
from sources of influence. Some approaches expect a group  
simply to set priorities without their understanding why. But we  
have an obligation to help ourselves and others understand why  
certain things are more important than others. We must help our  
sources of influence become more conscious of their criteria and  
values. Connecting criteria with priority alternatives also provides  
us with a sounder rationale and defense of our priorities.  
Regardless of approach, the relative importance of each  
alternative must be based on criteria identified before or during  
choice.  
CASE STUDY- Mary Ann Walker, Home Economist (cont.)  
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STEP 4:  
Mary Ann, the county home economist, had identified her  
possible priority alternatives. She set up a worksheet for  
systematizing her choice. The alternatives were listed down the left  
side. Across the top she listed the four sources of influence, with  
their criteria. She filled in her grid, indicating whether an alternative  
was high, medium, or low in importance based on selected criteria  
from her four sources of influence.  
Determining the  
relative importance  
of priorities  
She then checked which alternatives met the criteria of each source, including her  
own. She ultimately identified four programs as higher in value and importance than the  
others:  
1. Teenage nutrition.  
2. Low-income family nutrition.  
3. Consumer education.  
4. Use of credit.  
Though she personally felt low-income family nutrition was most important in light  
of its future consequences, she decided to place that priority lower on her list since it  
was the exclusive priority concern of other home economists in the Expanded Food and  
Nutrition Education Program. Teenage nutrition became her top priority.  
These priority alternatives were more important than the others because of her  
training; the readiness of specific clients and community, prevention of problems, close  
relationship to national ,and state goals, and the interrelationships of the priorities.  
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Step 5: reflecting on priorities: consequences and timing  
Many goals, concerns, and issues can be perceived as  
important and valuable by the four sources of influence. But  
just because a goal or action is important doesn't necessarily  
mean it's a priority-something that must be done now.  
A priority is some problem or concern that needs  
immediate attention. It's something that must be done first,  
before something else-to deal with an immediate crisis, to  
prevent a future crisis, or to enable a later action or goal to be  
accomplished.  
In Step 5 we look ahead to see the future consequences  
of our action or inaction on a priority. We decide what goals or  
subgoals need to be reached first, what needs to be done next,  
and how much time must be devoted to necessary activities.  
There are two critical questions in this step:  
Consider Future  
Consequences  
What are the future consequences of my action or  
inaction on this priority? Is it really most important now  
to prevent or avoid causing unwanted consequences or to  
cause desired consequences?  
Consider  
Timing  
What's the necessary timing on each priority perceived  
as important? Ibis question has two parts:  
1
2
. What must be done first?  
. How much time should be blocked off during  
the upcoming week, month, or year to get the  
job done adequately?  
Examples of criteria that might help us determine  
answers to the time dimension question are:  
1. Readiness of people (knowledge, attitudes, enthusiasm).  
2. Calendars and accessibility of backup resources.  
3. Interrelationship with other programs at some time  
or other.  
 
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4
5
. What part of the problem needs to be solved first.  
. The complexity of the problem and how much  
time it needs.  
6
. Potential payoff and future consequences of  
undertaking or neglecting a priority.  
. What other activities are needed to precede the  
major activity.  
7
Many of these criteria to determine timing depend on the  
capacity of groups to accept a priority and the resources  
available to undertake it. The relationship of a priority to limited  
resources comes to the forefront in this step.  
To illustrate the time dimension, let's presume you've  
assigned higher importance to three programs and lower  
importance to another five possible alternatives. In this step,  
you can put the five lower priorities on the back burner and  
deal only with the three high priorities.  
To treat these three important priorities, you must ask  
yourself which one needs more time in the next year or so.  
Those priorities that involve more people, are more sociopolitical  
than technical, involve more social barriers, need more  
resources and backup, are newer in nature, are interrelated with  
other problems, and need more legitimation and preparation, will  
require more time. If you have 120 days of flexible time open in  
the next year, you may find your top priority requires 50 or more  
of those days, your second priority may need 40, and the third  
may need 30.  
Work  
Backwards  
from Goals  
Once you've allotted time to the various priorities, you  
must determine the necessary timing and sequencing of  
activities if priority goals are to be achieved. For instance, if  
your priority is to achieve a goal two years from now, you  
should consider what subgoals need to be achieved before  
then. What activities are needed, in what order or sequence,  
if the bigger or more long-range goal is to be achieved?  
You can better sequence goals and related actions if  
you ask yourself:  
1
. What subgoals must be met before the ultimate  
goal is achieved?  
2. What actions need to precede others to achieve  
these goals?  
By starting with the perceived goal and working  
backwards in time you can determine the necessary sequence  
of events, activities, and subgoals that must precede the  
ultimate goal. You'll be surprised how many times we need  
to have something done yesterday if we expect something  
else to be achieved three years from now.  
We really haven't set priorities until we've dealt with  
both the value (Step 4) and time dimensions (Step 5).  
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CASE STUDY. Mary Ann Walker, Home  
Economist(cont)  
STEP 5:  
Mary Ann Walker came up with the following order of Iimportance in  
Reflecting on  
priorities:  
consequences and  
timing  
1. Teenage nutrition.  
2. Consumer education.  
3. Use of credit.  
When she looked ahead to the future consequences of her actions on teenage  
nutrition, she could see that such a program might significantly contribute to the health and  
well-being of teenagers, their stamina and alertness, especially in school, and better  
management of their own food buying and meal preparation when they were on their own.  
She was able to plan a sequence of activities by looking ahead three years and  
then working backwards to the present to see what things needed to happen.  
Time  
In 3 years:  
Goal  
Teenagers will be eating "significantly"  
better than at present, based on a  
random sample of teenage eating  
patterns.  
If so, 2 1/2 years  
from now:  
Educational program will have to be  
completed for all 13 communities  
in the county.  
But if so, 2 years  
from now:  
I have to begin my series of programs  
that could likely involve 3 meetings  
in each locale.  
But if so, 1 1/2  
years from now:  
I need to have developed the  
instructional materials I'll use.  
Which means that  
I have to have sessions with physicians,  
4-H leaders, nurses, dietitians, school  
teachers, and others to gain their  
support, cooperation, and willingness  
to be part of the program.  
1
year from now:  
Which means 6 months  
from now:  
I'll need to have thought clearly about  
communities, approaches, potential  
support people, and related activities.  
Which means that  
within the next  
I need to do a benchmark survey to  
determine knowledge level, attitudes,  
areas of concern, current food habits, etc.  
6
weeks:  
Which means that NOW:  
I'd better write or talk to others in  
Family Living and Sociology about  
how to make surveys, get resources,  
etc.  
Mary Ann had priority activities and subgoals needing immediate attention if a  
sequence of events were to lead towards her broader goal in three years. Reflecting on  
her priorities, their future consequences, the amount of time needed, and sequencing of  
related goals and actions had everything to do with whether she would achieve her  
overall program goals.  
Step 6: commitment to action on priorities  
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This step includes processes needing particular attention  
when the other steps have been completed.  
The sequence of the six steps could be changed. For  
example, other priority alternatives might become apparent  
during Step 5. Or your programming situation may be more  
clear after examining the possible priority alternatives. Or you  
might discover more criteria or reassign levels of value to  
priorities after you've reflected on your high priorities and dealt  
with the questions of timing and future consequences.  
But the order will hold true in most cases. So, in the last  
step you should give attention to several critical concepts:  
1
. Commitment.  
2
. Communication.  
3
4
. Resources.  
. Action.  
5
. Flexibility.  
Commitment  
You've not really completed your priority setting until  
you've committed yourself to a priority. You've said to  
yourself: "This is critical. All else is secondary until this  
activity, or this goal, or this audience is satisfied."  
Commitment is internal. No one else can make you  
committed. The other three sources of influence can pressure  
you for a commitment, but only you can reach that point.  
This is why we've stressed the notion that you are the "final  
filter." You have the final say about your program goals, though  
they've been greatly influenced by your sources of influence,  
especially those you serve with programs.  
Extension professionals are those who become committed  
to doing a job well, and that job can't be done well without  
an internal, personal commitment on their part. Harry Truman  
said, "The buck stops here." You, too, can't afford to pass  
the buck. You must develop a "stick-to-it" attitude.  
Is it possible to be personally committed to some goal  
and still not be able to carry it out because of interruptions  
and other pressures? Perhaps, but if that happens you haven't  
become personally committed enough to take precautions to  
protect your commitments and priorities. You can take steps  
to prevent these occurrences by communicating your  
priorities to others, allocating limited resources, and designing  
actions to carry out priorities.  
 
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Communication  
Influences on your job come from at least four sources.  
What's to stop those sources from pressuring you to change  
your commitments? Nothing, unless you communicate to  
all your sources of influence your job situation, the critical  
ness of setting priorities, your good reasons for the priorities  
you've set, and your intention to meet them. Support from  
fellow professionals is a must.  
Saying some priorities are higher is like saying "yes" to  
them. When others are assigned lower priority it's like saying  
"no"-or "maybe"-to them. However, you can say 64no))  
indirectly. Let your high priorities speak for you. Said in  
the "right" way, your message will be clear and won't offend  
or alienate people. For example, you can tell them your  
priorities will change after you've focused on certain things  
for a year or two, long enough to make a difference or get  
the job done. You can use your priority-setting group meetings  
(if you use such a technique) to reinforce these ideas. You may  
also assign some lower priorities to other people, agencies, or  
groups. Can someone else do it? Can you give a lower priority  
a little time and let others carry the ball?  
However you treat the lower priorities, you must make  
clear your commitment to the high priorities you've set.  
Making your intentions publicly known to others is one of  
the best steps toward commitment.  
Resources  
A key reason for setting priorities in the first place is  
because our limited resources can't meet all the demands.  
Thus, resource allocation is critical to priority setting and  
it's also the best way to commit ourselves to priorities.  
One way of communicating priorities is to get resources  
allocated, to get the help of specialists and other Extension  
people scheduled, and to get money budgeted in ways that  
make it difficult to pick up new activities unrelated to high  
priorities. The very act of getting resource and backup support  
communicates your commitments to others. Plans of work or  
calendars of events aren't simply busywork. They protect your  
time by blocking it off for priorities. They can help you  
practice two-way communication in the Extension organization.  
Action  
Many excellent empirical research studies have shown  
that the best predictors of one's future behavior are one's  
previous outward actions and behavior in the presence of  
others. For example, if you wish to know whether someone  
will organize a meeting for you, look to people who have  
done it in the past, or who have publicly expressed a  
willingness to do it. You can use the same principle to  
enhance your commitment and protect your priorities. By  
publicly telling others your priorities and intentions, you've  
performed an overt, public action that you and others see.  
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Your plan of work or efforts to secure resources and Extension  
support are such public actions. The commitment works both ways.  
Old sayings like "actions speak louder than words," or put  
your money where your mouth is," indicate that the best ways to  
tell others your priorities are the actual activities you plan and the  
programs you conduct. If you haven't set priorities, or if you have  
dealt with things superficially, it will be more difficult to convince  
others of your intentions. Eventually, however, if you've committed  
yourself to action, others will see your Extension role as purposeful  
and directed by the priorities you've set with others.  
The best possible action you can take towards commitment  
is to plan activities using the working-backwards idea. If you  
develop such a plan of action and then let your clientele groups  
and organization know about it, you'll place them and yourself on  
the spot. You'll have deadlines to meet-an excellent incentive to  
get things done. If you've called a meeting for March 9, sent  
letters to clientele, scheduled resource people and a meeting  
place, and announced the meeting to the mass media, it will be  
pretty hard to postpone work on a priority goal the meeting was  
designed to enhance. Without such planned actions, deadlines,  
and real activities, a list of priorities could sit meaningless in your  
files for years.  
The closer we can get to overt action, the better our  
commitment to priorities will be.  
Flexibility  
Extension work has been a success because of the  
tireless efforts of people like you who have helped others  
with their concerns and problems. Much of Extension's  
reputation is due to its flexibility and readiness to respond  
when needed. We aren't suggesting that you or any other  
Extension worker drop the concept of flexibility. You must  
be able to respond to requests and emergency situations as  
they arise. The idea of flexibility is not contrary to priority  
setting. When emergencies arise, you'll have to decide, first,  
whether they're within the scope of Extension's mission  
(priorities). If so, respond.  
Second, let's realize that emergencies always develop.  
Why not build into your schedule some time for dealing with  
those emergencies? You can't plan 100% of your time and  
still be able to deal with emergencies. Plan for flexibility.  
In summary, the outcome of this sixth step in priority  
setting is a commitment to priorities that we and others have  
determined are most important now. Commitment is much  
more possible if we have designed actions to meet our priority  
goals, have communicated our intentions to clientele, to the  
community, to the Extension system, and most important, to  
ourselves. Goals are important, but only actions will get results.  
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CASE STUDY. Mary Ann Walker, Home Economist (cont)  
STEP 6:  
Commitment  
to action  
Mary Ann followed up her priority-setting with well-written  
plans of work to her program leaders, nutrition specialist, office  
peers, the homemaker club council, and other home economists  
her district. The explanations of her priorities, needed resources,  
and planned activities were well received by most of them.  
in on priorities  
She also began contacting survey specialists, requesting money to do surveys, and  
making initial contacts with local resource people. She visited teachers and 4-H leaders  
to get their help and cooperation for her program, and to see how to make contacts with  
teenagers. She discovered such contacts would help her make inroads towards her  
second and third priorities; consumer education and use of credit were important topics  
on which to educate teenagers who would soon be on their own. She presented her ideas  
with a firmness that conveyed commitment and yet an openness to suggestions about  
better methods or other people to contact.  
Her immediate priorities became clearer to her and to others as her actions  
communicated her program commitments.  
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Summary  
This booklet was written with Extension program  
planning in mind. But the concepts can apply to short- or  
long-term situations, and to non-Extension programming  
situations as well. The critical ideas are:  
1
. Limited resources, accountability, the increasing  
complexity and interrelatedness of problems, and  
other factors demand that we set our priorities.  
. Some goals and actions are more  
2
3
4
5
important than others.  
. Some goals and actions need to be  
accomplished before others.  
. Someone needs to decide what goals and  
actions are high priority.  
. All situations of individuals are different, but  
underlying principles apply to many situations.  
6
. Four sources of influence put pressure on us as  
Extension professionals in setting priorities.  
They also provide possible priorities and criteria  
to judge them.  
7
8
9
. The Extension professional is ultimately responsible  
for considering all factors and making personal  
commitments to high priorities.  
. Criteria need to be used to determine priorities.  
One important criterion is the future consequences  
of our actions.  
. Setting priorities is worthless unless commitment  
and action follow.  
10. Two-way communication with sources of influence  
is necessary to set priorities and stick to them.  
If you understand these concepts and are committed to  
set priorities, you are on the first step of a road that leads to  
results.  
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Priority Setting --  
Three Case Studies  
CASE STUDY: Dick Snelling, County Youth Agent  
STEP 1:  
Dick Snelling, a youth agent, spent a great deal of time  
each year working with local volunteers to plan 4-H  
and other programs for youth.  
Understanding  
the priority-setting  
situation  
His overall program goals --developing human relations and  
community responsibility, enhancing career exploration, encouraging values  
clarification, and helping youth develop coherent life styles, were ongoing statewide  
concerns each year.  
But Dick had priority problems. After discussing his situation with others, Dick  
concluded that the problems were caused by the poor connection between overall  
program goals and the local activities he conducted with local 4-H leaders. Some said  
the broad statewide goals would mean more if he could develop some specific local  
goals related to the statewide thrusts. County activities would also relate better to such  
local goals. Dick decided to identify some of them by going to the sources of influence  
on his job.  
Dick's job was influenced by sources similar to Mary Ann Walker's, the home  
economist. He had to consider the community and society, which asked him to plan  
programs for youth to learn the basics of citizenship, cooperation, and relating to  
other people. He discovered the society's needs and priorities through mass media,  
school programs, Extension committees, his own sense of values, research, and  
opinion polls.  
Dicks's specific clients were the 4-H club members, leaders, and parents in his  
county. He also conducted short-term youth projects for non-4-H club members.  
These audiences told him their expectations for 4-H and youth programs through the  
county 4-H leaders' council, phone calls, and office visits.  
The Extension organization influenced his programs through his district 4-H  
program leaders, other specialists, written support materials, financial support,  
other agents, and the local Extension committee.  
Finally, Dick's own values and experiences affected his priorities. He was raised  
on a farm, had 4-H experiences as a boy, and raised beef calves and gave  
demonstrations in his project work He also lived with other students at college who  
came from large cities and became interested in urban 4-H and disadvantaged youth.  
Dick needed to set priorities on a county 4-H program that would reflect his own  
values, as well as the values and priorities of his other sources of influence  
 
 
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STEP 2:  
Dick felt his audiences were well identified. Other  
Extension people agreed with him that his focus ought to  
be maintaining and improving the local and county4-H Club  
programs and special non-4-H youth programs.  
Identifying  
the possible  
priorities  
As he considered how to get input on possible priority-goals for his county, Dick  
decided to work primarily within the current organization and ask leaders and 4-H  
members what they saw as priorities. The annual 4-H leaders' council county meeting  
was a good way to start the process.  
At the meeting, Dick explained his need to set priorities to the group. He  
outlined the existing statewide goals, his current activities, the difference between  
goals and activities, the need for two-way communication and getting input on  
priorities.  
He arranged the leaders and members into buzz groups to brainstorm on these  
questions:  
1
2
3
. Of existing 4-H statewide goals, which ones should we focus on in  
next year's county youth program?  
. Within the statewide goals, what community problems, issues, and  
concerns should we deal with to improve our local 4-H program?  
. Considering both the statewide goals and our community concerns,  
what goals should be high priority?  
As a result of the brainstorming sessions and a later followup with non-4-H  
club groups Dick developed this list of possible priority goals:  
1. Develop more leadership in wood and mechanical projects.  
2. Improve communication among leaders, agents, and parents,  
3. Improve quality of work in member-initiated projects.  
4. Expand 4-H to urban and disadvantaged youth.  
5
6
7
8
. Expand opportunities for junior leadership.  
. Increase project training in all projects.  
. Increase development of community projects by clubs.  
. Increase sharing of leadership by local clubs.  
9. Improve recreational training.  
1
0. Develop a family-oriented 4-H program.  
This list of goals seemed long to Dick. Some goals and commitments and  
many more on-going activities were already locked in. But it showed Dick why he  
had a priority-setting problem. He began to see that several of his current activities  
were unrelated to priority goals.  
STEP 3:  
Identifying  
criteria for  
Dick set criteria for choosing among these alternatives by  
relying on input from his state program leaders, 4-H Club  
members and leaders, and himself.  
selecting priorities  
Through letters and discussions with his program leader, he concluded he should use  
the statewide program goals as basic criteria for whether the more specific local goals  
were high priority or not. If a particular goal would greatly help 4-Hers achieve a  
statewide program goal, such as "clarification of personal values," that goal would be a  
high priority.  
The district program leader also pointed out the following possible  
criteria:  
Resources and available specialist help.  
activities.  
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The type of inservice training intended for the coming year for youth  
agents.  
The amount of controversy surrounding some  
goals.  
The possibility of a priority increasing 4-H  
membership.  
At the annual 4-H executive council meeting, Dick approached his leaders and  
members for their ideas on how they and he together should decide priority goals for  
the coming year. In their buzz groups, they came up with the following criteria for  
assigning priorities:  
1
. Number of kids affected.  
2
3
4
. Interest of parents and leaders.  
. Was event a success last year?  
. Has anyone suggested changes or additions to last year's program?  
5
6
7
. Dick's time.  
. Leaders' time.  
. Travel and distance.  
Dick agreed with most of the ideas he got from his 4-H organization and from his  
district leader. He recognized the need to build programs on the past, but he questioned  
whether last year's success, among other criteria stated -by leaders, wouldn't lead to  
static, traditional programs. He therefore also came up with these criteria:  
1. Will goal stimulate members' interest in their community?  
2. Will goal serve most projects and clubs in county?  
3. Will goal encourage both cooperation and competition?  
4
. Will it be educational?  
STEP 4:  
Dick decided to share the list of possible priority goals and  
criteria with various people identified at the next 4-H executive  
council meeting. He explained again that he needed to set  
priorities and select certain activities. He asked them to use  
the criteria listed under Step 3 in assigning rank order to  
the 10 possible priority goals on the sheet.  
Determining  
the relative  
importance of  
priorities  
Though Dick put more of the responsibility back on the group, he stressed the  
importance of his criteria.  
As the votes were tabulated and communicated to the group, the list looked  
like this:  
1
2
. Expand 4-H to urban and disadvantaged youth.  
. Improve communication among leaders, parents, and agents.  
3
4
5
6
. Improve quality of member-initiated work.  
. Increase leadership in wood and mechanical projects.  
. Increase project training in all projects.  
. Increase development of community projects by clubs.  
Dick realized that the first item on the list was important . . . but there were no cities  
larger than 40,000 in his county. He also realized that state youth specialists were  
developing a plan for expanding 4-H to disadvantaged rural youth. Inservice training and  
materials would be ready in another year. He decided his aptitude and resources to tackle  
that difficult job would be greater in another year, especially if well-trained leaders were  
developed this year to lead ongoing programs while he dedicated a lot of time next year  
to expanding the 4-H program.  
Therefore, he selected the following interrelated goals as his top priorities for the  
year ahead:  
1
2
. Improve quality of member- initiated project work.  
. Improve communication among leaders, parents, and agents.  
3. Increase project training in all projects.  
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STEP 5:  
Reflecting on  
priorities:  
consequences  
and timing  
The goals that Dick and his youth leaders and members  
picked for the next year supported statewide 4-H program  
goals. Dick still asked himself several reflective  
questions:  
1. Are all pertinent facts available and do they support  
these priorities?  
2
3
4
. Is the goal likely to be achieved?  
. Are people ready for it?  
. Do people know about it?  
5
6
7
. Are the goals more appropriate for certain groups than  
for others?  
. Are members and leaders aware of the time it will take  
to pursue the goals?  
. Will the priority goals help increase the impact of  
traditional events and their relationship to overall 4-H  
goals?  
These questions made Dick realize that if the quality of member-initiated project  
work was really to improve by next year, it would be necessary to develop a sequence  
of subgoals and activities. He began to ask more questions.  
We want improved project work next year. What projects? What members? Who  
needs it most? What's the present quality of work? What do leaders and parents need to  
do? What materials are available? Many decisions had to be made before a calendar of  
activities to meet the goal would materialize.  
Dick's head began to swim. He began to realize there was more to getting  
members to improve the quality of their work than just saying so. He needed a plan to  
get people involved in making decisions and carrying out actions.  
The project completion date was August 1. If leaders had to review and judge  
the projects by July 15, about 4 months remained for members to do their work.  
Members would need a better understanding of project work, its purposes, standards  
of expected quality, and necessary skills by March 15.  
Dick saw even more need for planning a calendar of activities for things that had  
to happen first. Leaders would need project training in February and March. He hadn't  
realized how closely related his Number 1 and 3 priorities were, but he could see that  
project training for leaders had now become an activity in support of a larger goal.  
Leaders would need new materials, training on how to work with members, and other  
help by the first of February. A planned executive committee meeting in October could  
help organize subcommittees to work on materials, assess where training was most  
needed, and arrange training meetings for leaders in December and January. Dick then  
considered what he had to do before the week of January 17 (the week of planned and  
publicized project training meetings) if results were to be shown in improved project  
work by members in the coming year.  
Dick planned an information program for members, parents, and leaders for  
August or September. He got information from other states and counties on how they  
conducted training. He wrote to his state leader right away for her advice.  
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STEP 6:  
Dick used his newsletters and 4-H executive council  
meetings to inform his members and leaders about plans for  
improving project work and training. During these communications,  
he also got feedback on further refinements. He actually began to  
get more support than he expected from some of the more  
traditional 4- H Club families. They could see, as he explained it,  
that in the long run the whole program would benefit by the  
focused attention on parts of it.  
Commitment  
to action on  
priorities  
He also found more willingness on the part of some leaders and parents to share  
the leadership load. His openness in sharing the predicament he faced enlightened  
them. The help he got from other youth agencies and Extension agents on new  
innovations for the county fair and how to run a camp were spin-off benefits and  
contributed to his Number 2 priority of improved communication.  
The involved activity of setting priorities was itself a value clarification process for  
Dick. He began to see what was really important for himself and others. His clients and  
colleagues noticed he was more interested in and committed to his job. The  
commitment became infectious.  
CASE STUDY: Elaine Jackson, State  
Plant Pathology Specialist  
STEP 1:  
Elaine Jackson had been a state Extension specialist in  
plant pathology for two years. Her situation was becoming  
extremely frustrating. At first she worked directly with farmers  
on disease control of farm crops as local agricultural  
agents identified problem situations. However, she soon began  
to do more work with pesticide dealers and plant breeders working  
on disease-resistant varieties.  
Understanding  
the priority-setting  
situation  
Her work in urban horticulture was so successful that her phone rang  
constantly May through July in the past year. Her mail was piling up. She was way  
behind on correspondence. Everybody thought their own problems were highest  
priority. Elaine's concern was-how do I decide which problems are of most concern,  
but more critically, what audiences are most important, and exactly what is my most  
important job responsibility?  
Elaine began defining her situation by listing her community and society sources of  
influence. She felt strongly that the world, national, and state food situation, as reflected  
by the World Bank, United Nations, and USDA publications, must be considered. She also  
knew about the pressures being put on agribusiness and pesticide producers from  
environmentally concerned groups such as Audubon, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth,  
and various consumer protection groups.  
The Extension organization also provided many influences on Elaine: other  
crop and livestock specialists, safety specialists, plant breeders, economists,  
agricultural program leaders, Extension agents, district directors, and the colleagues  
in her department.  
 
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Elaine's specific clientele were: State Department of Agriculture personnel,  
county plant inspectors, farm supply dealers, garden store operators, farmers, fruit  
growers, municipal parks departments, other faculty in Extension, and home  
gardeners.  
Elaine was herself a critical source of priority alternatives. She was obviously  
committed to a specialized field, plant pathology, and also had commitments to some  
activities she couldn't get rid of quickly.  
STEP 2:  
Elaine was trying to determine her priority audience. She  
knew she would have to work with various possible audiences to  
determine her main audiences. She began her process by  
first discussing the situation with her department chairperson  
and her state agriculture agribusiness program leader.  
Among them, they evolved a strategy in which Elaine could begin  
to see a more well-defined and acceptable plant pathology  
program.  
Identifying  
the possible  
priorities  
They decided that Elaine must involve the following people in deciding her  
program goals. These goals would help her and others identify her approaches and  
thus her audiences.  
1. County agricultural agents.  
2.Other plant and soils science specialists, especially the researchers in her own  
department.  
3.Selected agribusiness clientele (some she had worked with, and others she  
had not).  
4. Other state and federal agency representatives (some she had worked with,  
and others she thought she should).  
The first step was to prepare a list of possible critical goals. She developed a mail  
questionnaire and listed the following broad topic categories:  
1
2
3
4
. Pesticide use and safety.  
. Diagnosis and identification of diseases.  
. Control for new and continuing diseases of horticultural and farm crops.  
. Control for new and continuing diseases of other plants (trees, aquatic plants, etc.).  
5
6
7
8
. Legislation.  
. Biological control of diseases.  
. Plant breeding.  
. Other.  
She asked people in all 4 groups to identify specific concerns needing Extension  
education efforts in the next 1-5 years. She got a voluminous list from her sources.  
From the broader categories her eventual list of specific possible priority  
goals were:  
1
. Dutch Elm disease.  
2
3
4
. Storage rot of grains.  
. Corn leaf blight.  
. EPA regulations on fungicide use.  
5. Biological control of diseases.  
6. Nematodes on beans.  
7. Improving diagnosis of plant health.  
B. Improving protection and care of plants.  
. Relationship of nutrient deficiencies to diseases.  
9
1
1
1
0. Crop rotation for corn disease control.  
1. Alternate host controls.  
2. Education on generic chemicals.  
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She then prepared a second questionnaire using this list of possible concerns as  
perceived by her potential audiences. This list was sent with instructions for them to rate  
the importance of each of the listed alternatives and identify the reasons why certain  
alternatives should be chosen.  
STEP 3:  
Identifying  
criteria for  
selecting priorities  
Elaine used a modified version of the "Delphi Process" to  
decide her priority audiences. She needed to: (1 ) identify goals,  
(2) identify criteria for selecting priority goals, (3) choose desirable  
actions to achieve selected priorities, and (4) let the respondents  
identify the most logical high priority audiences she should work  
with on these goals and methods.  
From her second mailing, her respondents (6 fellow department members, 36  
agricultural agents, 11 fellow agricultural specialists, 4 program leaders, 23 farmers and  
truck gardeners, 16 agribusiness clients, and 13 state and federal agency personnel)  
identified the following important criteria for deciding statewide Extension education  
programs on plant pathology from:  
Extension organization & colleagues  
Specific clientele  
Self  
agents  
farmers  
specialists  
program leaders  
researchers  
agribusiness  
governmental agencies  
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
. Number affected.  
Research available.  
. Does it fit mission?  
. Is it timely?  
. Cost-benefit ratio  
. Potential results.  
. Is it a well-defined issue?  
. Is it critical in dealing with  
plant health?  
1. Help solve problems.  
2. Get rid of and prevent  
disease.  
3. Deals with farm crops.  
4. Within access.  
1 . Within my training.  
2. Readiness of agents  
and agency.  
3. Time, schedules.  
4. Reaches most people.  
5. Personal interest.  
6. Job description.  
7. Administrative  
support.  
5. Economics.  
6. Up-to-date information.  
7. Who else is already  
dealing with problems?  
8
9
. Potential payoff.  
. Previous  
commitments.  
STEP 4:  
Elaine did her priority setting by mail with those who agreed to  
work with her. She sent out the list of possible priorities, along with  
the appropriate list of criteria for each group, to her colleagues and  
asked them to select one or two high priority concerns. She also asked  
them to check which criteria influenced their choices and to suggest  
how the broader society and community would benefit if she  
programmed on their choice.  
Determining  
the relative  
importance of  
priorities  
The response from her second mailing indicated, to her surprise, that her potential  
clientele groups wanted her to work on (1 ) general plant care and protection and (2) plant  
health diagnosis. The choices were surprising to Elaine because they hadn't been  
important in her previous work. The criteria supporting these priorities were: efficiency,  
numbers affected, prevention of problems, and greater potential payoff in the long run.  
STEP 5:  
Reflecting on  
priorities:  
Elaine could see that if these two goals could be met, her pro  
gram efforts on more specific requests (such as fire blight, late  
blight, rust, and storage rot) would also be enhanced.  
consequences  
and timing  
Elaine thought she should block out time to study, develop,  
and prepare materials now if she were to achieve her goals. For  
example,  
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if her program on expanding the knowledge base for plant health diagnosis were to get  
results, she had to approach several groups, some before others. She decided her  
primary audiences should be those who get calls on "what's wrong with my  
plant?"-dealers, nursery personnel, fungicide salespeople, and horticulture agents. She  
could reach more people by increasing their understanding of the role of early diagnosis  
in disease control. She started at the end, with her goals, and worked backwards to find  
out what she needed to do now with certain audiences if later successes were to happen.  
Time  
Goals and actions  
In 3 years:  
More people, including the general public, would  
receive information on plant health and disease.  
If so, 2 1/2 years  
from now:  
I should promote public meetings for home  
gardeners and fruit growers.  
By 2 years  
disease  
from now:  
I should conduct programs on the idea of  
diagnosis for agency people, dealers, and large  
growers.  
If so, 1 1/2 years  
from now:  
I should begin working with new people on a  
mass media program to generate awareness  
and interest in plant health.  
But if so, 1  
year from now:  
1 have to write fact sheets, get new materials,  
bulletins, and audio-visuals on useful early  
diagnostic techniques.  
By 6 months  
from now:  
I should complete reading and writing on  
characteristics of healthy plants and disease  
symptoms.  
STEP 6:  
Once Elaine found out the importance of her priorities, and  
the time needed for them, she became more committed to  
the very task itself. Her department chairperson and program  
leader inquired one day how her priority setting was going.  
Her positive response got them thinking about discussing the  
idea with other Extension faculty.  
Commitment  
to action on  
priorities  
Elaine was just as busy as always, but she now had time for writing bulletins and  
answering the phone on her top priorities. She still got many questions on the same  
topics as before, but more of them were coming from quasi-professionals in horticulture  
diseases, such as garden store operators and agents. She got part-time help to answer  
the phone on the other questions that come to a plant pathology department in summer.  
Agents who worked with Elaine saw that she was still the same committed  
specialist she always was, except that she was now more committed to working on the  
general educational concerns underlying more immediate questions, such as "How can  
I detect blight earlier?"  
Her audiences were defined as professionals and dealers. In effect, she reduced  
the number of people she was trying to reach by recognizing that she could get the  
"
multiplier effect" if she aimed at dealers, agents, fruit and vegetable growers, and  
others who had many more contacts with the general public than she ever could. Her  
audiences developed more confidence to deal with common problems and began to  
call Elaine on more difficult ones.  
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CASE STUDY: Hank Porter, Area Resource Agent  
STEP 1:  
Understanding the  
but  
Hank Porter was an area community and resource development  
(CRD) agent for six years and in that time he found many rewards,  
priority-setting  
situation  
many problems. His work was very intangible and ambiguous.  
Sometimes he wondered whether he was a regional Chamber of  
Commerce assistant, an Extension agent, or a specialist in business  
or a half dozen other subjects.  
He worked on regional planning, lakeshore improvement, industrial  
development, and procurement of low-rent housing within many counties in his area.  
However, he tended to work on many projects in response to day-to-day requests. He  
was concerned whether his activities really responded to the critical needs and issues  
in his eight-county area, or if he could make a more significant contribution by giving  
more systematic attention to setting priorities.  
Hank saw the communities as most critical to his program's success. He got input  
about broad societal concerns such as the economy, the environment, taxes, alienation,  
equal opportunity, and cultural opportunities, from mass media, conversations with  
political leaders, and his organization.  
Hank also needed input from the eight counties he worked in about their specific  
needs and problems.  
Within these counties, specific groups such as Chambers of Commerce, town and  
county board members, industrial development boards, service clubs, Regional  
Planning Commission, civic groups, municipalities, small businesses, and  
environmental protection groups would need to be approached.  
His Extension sources of influence were sociologists, survey teams, economic  
specialists, urban and regional planners, CRD program leaders, local Extension  
agents, recreation and leisure specialists.  
Hank felt he was the critical source of influence on his own role in CRD work, but  
he knew he had to depend heavily on others. As a facilitator between content specialists  
and agents in specific locales, he was the channel between local problems and new  
research and ideas. He needed flexibility, adaptability, and concern for the needs of  
people.  
STEP 2:  
Hank worked in a certain defined geographic area with county  
Extension agents in designated counties. He decided he needed to  
approach several groups to get input. He talked with the six county  
agents with whom he worked. Based on their general concerns, he  
asked state program leaders and state specialists how they saw the  
situation. The Extension specialists and leaders assured him they  
Identifying  
the possible  
priorities  
would do all they could to provide back-up support to the programs identified as critical by  
the communities he worked in. So Hank went back to the counties to solicit the concerns of  
certain communities as his own priorities.  
Hank and his agents decided to conduct a pilot effort within the next year to  
identify a township and/or village in each county. Within each, they promoted a special  
town -problem identification meeting. At this meeting, Hank led the participants  
through the "nominal group" process. He asked the participants to form into groups of  
 
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He asked the participants to list on one side of their cards what critical problems  
they perceived in their community and on the other side what should be done about  
the problem, or whether it was realistic to expect the problem to be solved.  
The ideas of individuals were later consolidated on paper, hung up on walls,  
discussed, and voted on by the groups. The lists of the priority concerns identified for  
each of the 6 pilot communities were:  
Rock County  
Colfax)  
Dakota County  
(Hills City)  
Joliet County  
(Cold Springs)  
(
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
. Business development.  
. Stream pollution.  
. New hospital needed.  
. More jobs needed.  
. Farmers need higher prices.  
. High taxes.  
1 . Mass transportation.  
2. Trucking.  
3. Mail system.  
4. New library needed.  
5. Housing.  
1 . Bussing.  
2. Gasoline shortage.  
3. Recreation facilities.  
4. Lake pollution.  
5. Too many tourists.  
6. Needs new medical clinic. 6. Not enough jobs.  
. Kids leaving for large cities.  
. Bus system needs updating.  
7. Industrial development.  
8. Local government being  
told what to do.  
7. Overlapping govern-  
ment services.  
8. Lack of cooperation.  
9. People shop elsewhere.  
9
1
. Air pollution.  
0. Growing population.  
Hansforth County  
Washington County  
(Hills City)  
Billingsburg County  
(Scandia)  
(
Sterling)  
1
2
3
4
5
. Jobs.  
. Taxes.  
. Income.  
. Out migration.  
. Roads.  
1. Housing.  
1. Sewage.  
2. Mass transportation.  
3. Land use planning.  
4. Urban sprawl.  
2. Solid waste.  
3. Water quality.  
4. Electricity.  
5. Tax pressures on farmers. 5. Stream bank  
erosion.  
6
7
8
. Gasoline.  
. Closing industry.  
. Land use zoning.  
6. School taxes.  
7. Garbage.  
8. Role of local government. 8. Recreation  
6. Air pollution.  
7. Library.  
development.  
. Inflation.  
0. Recreation.  
9. Business management  
10. Growing population.  
11. Air pollution.  
9. EPA regulations.  
9
1
Then Hank asked himself, "How can I select among them? What happens if I pick  
some and not others?" He still had a difficult task ahead.  
STEP 3:  
Identifying  
Hank decided he needed to check with all four sources of  
influence for criteria to use in setting priorities.  
criteria for  
selecting priorities  
From the community and society, he found criteria by listening  
to the radio, watching TV, and reading newspapers. The amount  
of time and space given to concerns in the media was very revealing, especially  
documentaries and features that explored important issues. He also found ideas in the  
minutes of the State Association of County Supervisors and the League of Municipalities.  
The legislative hearings and issues taken up by such groups as the League of Women  
Voters also helped him set societal directions for his programs. For the society, he  
identified the following as criteria:  
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1
. Environmentally supportive.  
2
3
4
. Economically supportive.  
. Affects many people.  
. Local groups approve the program.  
5
6
7
8
. The program solves local governmental problems.  
. Does it need any more money from community?  
. Will community be better off?  
. Will program mean more jobs?  
The Extension organization also had certain criteria. His program leaders said the  
following were important in setting program priorities:  
1
. Educational.  
2
3
. Problem solving.  
. Efficient.  
4. Balanced programming.  
5
6
. Equal opportunity.  
. Economic and social benefits.  
7
. Payoff.  
8
. Visibility.  
From the six specific pilot communities he worked with, Hank got the following  
list of criteria during meetings in which he used the nominal group technique:  
1
. Level of interest of people affected.  
2
3
4
. Will it make a difference?  
. Number of people affected.  
. Will some of the current vested interests in communities be  
threatened?  
5
6
. Do communities have resources and people to handle program?  
. What will consequences of action or inaction be?  
Hanks's own personal values and commitments were also important. One night  
he listed f . or himself those things of critical importance for him to choose among  
programs. These personal interests and values in order of their criticalness were:  
1
. Benefit of individual, not the system.  
2. Education.  
3. Consistency.  
4
. Environment and ecology.  
5
6
. Reasonable economic benefits.  
. Time, previous commitments.  
7
8
9
. Sufficient backup help.  
. Is it critical now?  
. Chances of success, payoff, and visibility.  
STEP 4:  
In community and resource development, Hank needed to  
work very closely with his potential clients in identifying priorities.  
The priority alternatives and criteria used in valuing in this area  
were much more attitudinal and less factual and certain.  
Alternatives could be interpreted in various ways and  
quick solutions to problems were very often nonexistent. For  
these reasons, Hank thought he should make his choices  
in a group setting (his 6 communities) to have people review  
the criteria and to set priorities with him.  
Determining the  
relative importance  
of priorities  
Hank told the group that the criteria were like screens or filters, and their group was a  
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screen in a funnel out of which would come the priorities and programs he should work on in  
their community.  
He told them he had a number of program possibilities. He put the concerns for  
each particular community on a blackboard so the group could ask questions about  
them, add to them, or revise them if they wished.  
He asked the group to look at the criteria, to ask questions until they understood  
the list, and then to pick out the three that most seemed to represent community and  
society concerns.  
These votes were tallied and the top seven were put back on the board. Hank then  
reviewed the specific clientele criteria, and asked the group to ask questions to clarify  
the possibilities. They were then asked to vote again as to which of the seven possible  
priorities left over from the first round best met their own specific criteria. The votes  
were tallied and the top five were put back on the board.  
Hank thanked the group for their selections and explained that their chosen high  
priorities would have to be put through two more filters: the Extension organization's and  
his own, before he could select which ones he'd program on. He said he'd report his  
chosen program priorities back to them when they were selected. Then he went home  
to pass the five top priority alternatives through the Extension screen and his own.  
When he finished, the priorities were ranked in importance as  
follows:  
1. Land use planning (Hank's No. 1  
priority)  
2. Urban sprawl  
3. Waste disposal  
4. Tax pressures on  
farmers  
5. Mass transportation  
6. Growing population  
7. Air pollution  
STEP 5:  
One thing became clear to Hank when he reflected on what was  
ranked most important by the communities and himself. If results of  
any magnitude were to come from his work on land use planning and  
zoning, he would need more than merely a voice vote of influentials  
Reflecting on  
priorities:  
consequences  
in  
and timing  
a county. He tried to answer several other questions about his top  
priority:  
1. Is the choice congruent with my efforts in other counties? (4 of 6 counties  
were working on it-it was.)  
2
. Do the facts and hard data support it? (Data on taxes, population growth,  
subdivisions, condemnations, and mixing of home and industrial sites  
supported it.)  
3
. Will urban land use planning support my other work? (He knew that the  
choice was an "umbrella program" for more specific concerns on pollution,  
preferential tax treatments for farmlands, industrial development, and urban  
sprawl.)  
4. Was anything likely to happen? Was the choice just a put-off with no likely  
consequences?  
On this last question, he concluded, it was extremely timely for four of six  
counties to deal with this topic. If they didn't, the consequences were very gloomy.  
Chaos and conflicts were likely in the future if individuals and communities didn't  
consider land use choices now.  
For more material and information, please visit Tai Lieu Du Hoc at www.tailieuduhoc.org  
The goal he had in mind was that at the end of five years each county would  
have a comprehensive land use plan and zoning ordinance. Applying the  
work-backwards" concept, he built the following sequence of necessary priorities and  
"
supportive short-term priorities:  
Time  
Goals and actions  
By end of 5th year:  
If so, by end of 4th year:  
By end of 3rd year:  
Land use plan in Washington County.  
Hearings and other public input and reactions mus  
Task force study meetings, community surveys  
taken, and recommendations made to county  
board.  
By end of 2nd year:  
If so, by end of 1st year:  
STEP 6:  
Extension educational program on need for land  
use planning:  
meetings  
mass media  
Data collection.  
Legitimation with key influentials.  
Assignment of special concerns of people.  
Checking with key resource people on program.  
Hank communicated much of his commitment to others in  
Commitment  
to action on  
priorities  
their  
early stages of his priority-setting process. He had checked with  
his program leaders and specialists and asked them about  
alternatives and criteria. They said they'd be ready to commit  
resources to his pilot communities depending on their needs. So  
he had already made tentative commitments to the organization.  
However, once he had set down a calendar of activities, he still needed to commit  
himself to the communities, to his Extension program leaders, to specialists in urban and  
regional planning, and to the Extension agents. He did this through newsletters, memos,  
formal plans of work, and notices of upcoming activities in the mass media.  
His actions, such as regular visits to the six pilot communities, communicated to  
them that he was committed. During these early visits, his discussions with agents and  
local leaders showed his commitment to working on land use planning as a top priority.  
Hank knew he would have to adjust his schedule as new emergencies came up,  
but basically he had committed himself to his priorities through discussions, memos,  
and scheduling meetings on which further meetings depended.  
For more material and information, please visit Tai Lieu Du Hoc at www.tailieuduhoc.org  
References  
The following references may add to your understanding of the six priority-setting steps  
or help you do a priority-setting task better.  
Aylesworth, Thomas, and Gerald Reagan. Teaching for Thinking. Garden City, N.J.:  
Doubleday, 1969.  
Discusses in practical terms how to improve one's consistency, reasoning, and logical  
thinking; and how to improve three types of value judgments. Though written for formal  
school teache7s, this book should help further understanding of how to determine the  
importance of priority possibilities.  
Boyle, Patrick G. The Program Planning Process with Emphasis on Extension.  
Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin, National Agricultural Extension Center for  
Advanced Study, 1965.  
Presents a program planning model and summarizes research on Extension  
program development done at the University of Wisconsin and other universities.  
Implications for practice and further research are presented in direct terms. The  
priority-setting process can occur within such a planning model.  
Bronowski, J. Science and Human Values. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.  
A philosophical treatise on the relationship of one's personal values to scientific  
research. It gives a perspective on how to interpret new research and knowledge  
and apply it to determining what's most important.  
Delbecq, Andre L., Andrew Van de Ven, and David Gustafson. Group Techniques for  
Program Planning: A Guide to Nominal Group and Delphi Process. Glenview, Ill.: Scott  
Foresman, 1975.  
A practical guide to two processes of involving people to gather possible priorities and  
criteria The nominal group technique and the Delphi survey process are discussed in  
easy to understand terms. Examples are provided.  
Dewey, John. Theory of Valuation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964.  
In-depth philosophical treatment of how the value of goals and actions is  
determined and how they interrelate. An excellent presentation of the philosophy  
that underlies the Extension learning-by-doing approach. It also discusses how  
the value or importance of a possible priority can be determined.  
Forest, Laverne. "Using Value Types To Identify Needs." Journal of Extension, XI (Fall,  
1973), 24-34.  
Discusses how seven possible personal values can serve as basic assumptions to  
decide which needs and concerns are top priority. Different values and assumptions  
force different conclusions by different people though they see the same fact& Thus,  
what is deemed high priority depends on one's basic values and assumptions.  
Frank], Victor. Man's Search for Meaning. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963.  
Real-life experiences in a Nazi concentration camp are related as they forced  
Frankl to search for the real meaning of life. These experiences could be  
useful to help determine what criteria are critical, what's most important, and  
what needs to be done.  
 
For more material and information, please visit Tai Lieu Du Hoc at www.tailieuduhoc.org  
Kiesler, Charles. The Psychology of Commitment. New York: Academic Press, 1971.  
The best book giving full attention to theory and experimental research on personal  
commitment, its factors, and the degree to which different outward behaviors relate  
to internal beliefs. Though others treat dissonance theory, attitudes, and values as  
they relate to commitments, this book may be a starting point for further  
understanding of how we can stick to our priorities.  
Loomis, Charles. Social Systems: Essays on Their Persistence and Change. Princeton,  
N.J.: Van Nostrand & Co., 1960.  
First chapter presents an overall theoretical view on factors in a social setting or  
community that should be taken into account in trying to understand a situation and  
determine priorities.  
Miller, Delbert. Handbook of Research Design and Social Measurement. New York: David  
McKay, 1970.  
An easily understood manual on how to design various data-gathering strategies. The  
strategies, simplified rules, and other discussion can help either the practitioner or the  
researcher.  
Oppenheim, A.N. Questionnaire Design and Attitude Measurement. New York: Basic Books  
Inc., 1966.  
A practical booklet on sociological research procedures. It discusses surveys, attitude  
measuremen4 and analysis. Presents useful advice on how to gather ideas on possible  
priorities and criteria and interpret them.  
Osborne, Alexander. Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative  
Problem Solving, 3rd ed. New York: Scribners, 1963.  
The best description of how one can use the brainstorming technique with a group  
to get ideas and input on priority concern&  
Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. New York: Random  
House, 1975.  
A discussion of how one man searched for the quality and value of life. A though  
t-provoking philosophical book describing how both the artist and the scientist must  
integrate their thinking if we're to truly know what's most important in this world,  
what needs to be done firs 4 and how one can reach commitment to priorities.  
Raths, Louis, Harmin Merrill, and Sidney Simon. Values and Teaching. Columbus,  
Ohio: Charles Merrill Co., 1966.  
A practical, easy to understand booklet on how to understand one's own  
values and use them in everyday practical decisions and priority setting.  
Simon, Sidney, Leland Howe, and Howard Kirschenbaum. Values Clarification. New  
York: Hart Publishing, 1972.  
Includes 79 specific strategies which individuals and groups can use to  
determine what is most important in their live& These identified values can in  
turn help further reasoning to determine activity and program priorities.  
Steele, Sara. Developing a Questionnaire. Madison, Wis.: University of  
Wisconsin-Extension, Division of Program and Staff Development, 1974.  
A short practical outline of what a practitioner must do to take reliable, valid  
surveys via a mailed questionnaire. Examples relating to Extension are included.  
Stufflebearn, Daniel, and P.D. IL National Study Committee on Education. Educational  
Evaluation and Decision Making. Itasca, Ill.: F.E. Peacock Publishers, 1971.  
Presents theoretical discussion of the C.I.P.P. model of program evaluation and  
how evaluation processes undergird decisions at various stages of program  
development and implementation. Discusses the decision-making model that  
serves as a basis for the priority-setting model of this booklet.  
Summers, Gene. Attitude Measurement. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1970.  
For more material and information, please visit Tai Lieu Du Hoc at www.tailieuduhoc.org  
All generally recognized theories and methods of measuring attitudes are  
included in this book for those who want an in-depth understanding of methods  
such as Likert Scale, semantic differential, etc  
Toffler, Alfred. Future Shock. New York: Random House, 1970.  
Discusses the increasingly fast changing world and the stress that the speed  
of change places on individuals. Includes implications for how we set  
priorities, how to deal with the consequences of past and current decisions,  
and how to decide about the future.  
Tyler, Ralph W. Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. Chicago: University of  
Chicago Press, 1949.  
An older but excellent book for understanding a basic systematic approach to  
Extension programming. The discussion on continuity, integration, and  
sequencing can be helpful to understand the process of what needs to be done  
first and what needs to precede other goals and actions.  
Webb, Eugene, J. Campbell, Donald Schwartz, and Lee Sechrest. Unobtrusive  
Measures: Non Reactive Research in Social Sciences. Chicago: Rand  
McNally & Co., 1966.  
Discusses a unique way to gather and systematize available daft The basic  
approach is to use clues left behind by people's behaviors as information  
about what they see as priorities and what their commitments are.  
For more material and information, please visit Tai Lieu Du Hoc at www.tailieuduhoc.org  
Laverne Forest, a former agricultural agent in both urban and rural counties is an  
assistant professor in the Department of Continuing and Vocational Education, the  
University of Wisconsin, and in the Division of Program and Staff Development University  
of Wisconsin-Extension.  
Sheila Mulcahy, a former radio, television, and newspaper reporter, teacher, and college  
news director, is an instructional design specialist in the Division of Program and Staff  
Development; University of Wisconsin-Extension.  
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