A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 09, 2009
“When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority”

"When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority” is a saying used by both business and government. When everything is “top priority” and must be done “right away,” then nothing gets done. Legislators and business people learn to prioritize.

The saying “When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority” is cited in print since at least 1973.


12 May 1973, Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) Free Press, “Word Wise” by Larry Geller, New Leisure Saturday Magazine, pg. 2, col. 2:
Now when everything has priority, nothing has priority. If everything comes first, nothing comes first.

30 October 1980, Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) Free Press, “Ottawa budgets uncertainty” by W. A. Wilson, pg. 6, col. 3:
Arguments will develop over the jumble of priorities involved in the package and some will say that where everything has priority nothing really has.

Google Books
At America’s Service:
How corporations can revolutionize the way they treat their customers

By Karl Albrecht
Homewood, IL: Dow Jones-Irwin
1988
Pg. 56:
When everything is a priority, nothing is really a priority. People can get excited just so many times. After that, they wear out.

19 September 1988, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “Business urged to join fight against pollution” by Michael Martz, pg. B4:
“When everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority,” Thomas said. “It’s gotten so that everything’s a priority.”

19 May 1989, The Capital (Annapolis, MD), “Bush makes everything a priority” by William Raspberry, pg. A9, col. 1:
What is wrong with this approach, according to these voluntary advisers, is that if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority, and nothing substantive gets done.

Google Books
Meeting needs in an affluent society: a multi-disciplinary perspective
By Anne Corden, Eileen Robertson, Keith Tolley
Aldershot u.a. Avebury
1992
Pg. 198:
When everything is essential nothing is, and when everything is a priority nothing gets done.

Google Books
Public management in a borderless economy
By Philip John Steenkamp
Toronto: Institute of Public Administration of Canada
1994
Pg. 575:
When everything is a priority, nothing is; when everything is an emergency or a crisis, there is little meaning to the process of priority-setting.

Google Books
SuperMotivation:
A blueprint for energizing your organization from top to bottom

By Dean R. Spitzer
New York, NY: AMACOM
1995
Pg. 44:
After a while, workers realize that when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

NSCBlog
If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.
By Nathan S. Collier | October 2, 2008
When everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. If everything is important, then nothing is important.

Medicine responds to this potential dilemma with the concept of triage, which prioritizes patients so as to do the most good for the greatest number when resources are not great enough, to treat everyone when resources are insufficient for immediate treatment.

Washington Post - dot.comments by Doug Feaver
We’ll close with spamagnet987, who wrote, “George C. Marshall managed to run World War II and left the office every day at 4:00 p.m. Unlike the Obama administration, he knew how to prioritize and delegate. With Obama, everything is a priority—and as I learned long ago, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”

All comments on this article are here.
By Doug Feaver | July 13, 2009; 8:04 AM ET

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Monday, November 09, 2009 • Permalink