A Blueprint For Discussing Work and Family Priorities

Here’s a helpful tool that can help us discuss our work and family priorities and develop strategies to reach our goals.

This blueprint can not only help you build a house, but also help you build a better work-family balance! (Harp Family Institute)
This blueprint can help you build a better work-family balance! (Harp Family Institute)

A while ago, I gave a presentation at the Academy of Management conference as part of a panel symposium on new areas of work-family research and practice. One of my co-presenters was Trisha Harp, who skyped into the symposium as it took place just a few days before the due date of her baby (Baby has arrived, and mom, baby and family are all doing fine!).

Trisha is one of the principals at the Harp Family Institute, a research and consulting firm specializing in helping entrepreneurs and their spouses/partners/families better understand their family dynamics and how their may business affect family life (and vice-versa). Important stuff, and a great example of the growing momentum for work-family balance in business and society.

One of the items Trisha presented was what I think is a brilliant tool to get couples to discuss their goals and priorities. See below:

The incredibly useful Harp Family Institute “Blueprint Exercise”

By using the metaphor of the rooms of a house, this blueprint helps couples discuss a wide range of family, business, relationship and personal goals. By “walking through” each room in the house and discussing your priorities with your partner, you may:

  • Get better insight into your own goals and priorities
  • Recognize the wide range of important aspects of a full life
  • Get better insight into your spouse’s goals and priorities
  • Use this information to jointly craft family goals
  • Discuss actions you can take to reach as many of the goals as possible
  • Find ways to support each other
  • Find areas in which you may need to compromise

I’ve long been an advocate of frequent and open communication between couples, ensuring that everyone’s priorities are voiced and supported. After going through an exercise like this, whatever a couple decides is fine. What is most important is that we can articluate our priorities and make arrangements that work best for our families. I think this blueprint can help.

So, please take the hour to walk through the Harp Family Institute blueprint. I bet you’ll be glad you did. (and after you do, please leave a quick comment about the experience in the comments section below!)

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13 thoughts on “A Blueprint For Discussing Work and Family Priorities

  1. Very interesting. The following step may be to draw our house according the dimensions of the different rooms. For example, if my main goal is only my job, the office room is the largest.

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