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Q: Originator of the urgency/importance matrix ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Originator of the urgency/importance matrix
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: jeff9999-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 23 Mar 2003 18:06 PST
Expires: 22 Apr 2003 19:06 PDT
Question ID: 180075
Steven Covey is often credited with originating the idea of combining
the concepts of urgency and importance into a matrix (important and
urgent, not important and urgent, important and not urgent, not
important and not urgent) for the purpose of prioritizing activites. I
suspect that someone else actually originated the idea. If true, who
is it? Need hard evidence (published book or journal article, etc.).

Request for Question Clarification by justaskscott-ga on 05 Apr 2003 20:11 PST
I still do not have hard evidence; perhaps it is simply not on the
Web.).  However, I do have a lot of circumstantial evidence, including
a quote about urgency and importance, a few stories about this
person's using urgency and importance as criteria for decision-making,
and frequent association of this person's name with this matrix. 
Would this be sufficient for an answer?

Clarification of Question by jeff9999-ga on 06 Apr 2003 08:53 PDT
If I understand correctly, you have run across a name several times.
Have you tried an author search on Amazon etc?

In my own research about six or eight months ago, I ran across a
reference to an author who published the concept 20--30 years ago. But
I lost the info and the link. As I recall, a person and a book were
mentioned. The person was a known author of self-help stuff in that

I would REALLY like to get the name of that person and the title of
the book.

Request for Question Clarification by justaskscott-ga on 06 Apr 2003 09:04 PDT
This person's use of this concept occurred more than 20-30 years ago. 
I didn't see a reference to a book; but perhaps the book drew upon the
style of this person, who was well known for a work style that was
apparently closely related to this concept.

Would you be interested in information about this person in relation
to this concept?

Clarification of Question by jeff9999-ga on 06 Apr 2003 12:13 PDT

Request for Question Clarification by justaskscott-ga on 06 Apr 2003 14:25 PDT
Sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to make sure:  Shall I post
this information as an answer?  I wasn't clear when I asked before,
and I wouldn't want to post an answer if you actually only wanted a

Clarification of Question by jeff9999-ga on 06 Apr 2003 16:18 PDT
Please post your answer. Thanks.
Subject: Re: Originator of the urgency/importance matrix
Answered By: justaskscott-ga on 06 Apr 2003 22:19 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello jeff9999-ga,

The prominent person who apparently used this idea well before Steven
Covey's popularization of it was General and President Dwight David

Several pages quote Eisenhower as saying, "What is important is seldom
urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."  The following page
indicates that he learned this idea from his mentor, Fox Connor.

"Macyl A. Burke - President and CEO, The AdGap Group" (March 1997)
Foundation for Enterprise Development

Various pages call the urgency/importance matrix the "Eisenhower
matrix", "Eisenhower principle", "Eisenhower grid", etc.  For example,
here is a comment that associates the "Eisenhower matrix" with the
work of Steven Covey:

"FAQ: SuperMemo 2000 Archive" [under "Stefan Schenderlein, Germany,
Dec 21, 1999"]

Here are several descriptions of the "Eisenhower matrix", or of how
Eisenhower used urgency and importance in his decision-making.  (He is
famous for delegating, and apparently urgency and importance -- or
lack thereof --were key criteria in his decisions to delegate.)

"Time Management Tips" (from "Straight Answers To People Problems, by
Richard Richard D. Irwin
Survive the Search!

" Time management"

"Appendix 5b: Eisenhower Model", in "MAPA-PROJECT: A Practical Guide
Integrated Project Planning and Evaluation", By Ulrich Schiefer and
Reinald Döbel
Open Society Institute: Institute for Educational Policy

"Semaine 2 : une question de méthode," by William Coop and Nathalie
Mourlot 03/12/2002)

"Personal Resource Management - SPL3 Lecture - Olivier de Weck -
Guest: Mary Camerlengo" (September 12, 2002) [page 5]
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Unified Engineering

I hope that this information is helpful.

- justaskscott-ga

I used various combinations of the following search terms, alone or in

jeff9999-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
The answer was unexpected and a bit of a shock. The evidence was a bit
softer than I wanted, but excellent nonetheless. I appreciate
inclusion of the search terms with the answer.

Subject: Re: Originator of the urgency/importance matrix
From: justaskscott-ga on 05 Apr 2003 08:07 PST
I have seen an indication, but not yet hard evidence, that you are
right, that someone else had this idea before Steven Covey.  (I have
only seen articles that suggest that this person had this idea; but
they do not provide evidence of it.)  Perhaps another Researcher will
find the hard evidence before I do; but I'll try again tonight if
there is still no answer.

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