sense of urgency…..

There seems like a singular common trait that distinguishes highly successful and productive people from the rest, one that differentiates between average and superior performers. This common trait is a sense of urgency that drives people to work much smarter and harder than normal.
Having said that, the dilemma I am constantly battling these days is – how much urgency is good enough. If you move extremely fast you may not be able to carry the organization and if you are just a shade slow, a lot of opportunities may get missed. Tricky, and responsiveness is clearly emerging as a competitive advantage – how you out manoeuvre, out flank and out think others.
Small organisations are inherently more agile and nimble. Their survival is always at stake for if they don’t move fast enough, they will get obliterated by larger, more established competitors. At the same time it is tough to find large companies that truly demonstrate a sense of urgency. Circumstances rarely demand it for them, nothing that must be done today, this week and by the time they wake up, it is often too late. Many such examples in the recent past…
Almost like an inverse relationship between company’s size and a sense of urgency embedded in its culture. Hardly anyone can afford to drift along with the status quo in today’s environment. Growth is not a foregone conclusion. Even survival cannot be taken for granted. The companies that thrive in today’s economy will be those that can shift their cultures from the slower pace of business-as-usual to one of super urgency.
Ideal if this attribute can permeate every aspect of our culture. Let me enumerate a few steps that support and help build urgency :
– Bias for action : Just ACT! While you never go into a battle without a carefully thought through battle plan, over analysis often leads to an action paralysis. There is almost never a point of absolute certainity and hence you got to decide and move on. At least you get a direction and as they say, it is easier to change course of a moving ship!
– Results orientation : always great to have a culture driven by outcomes rather than focused on tasks. Those who offer reasons often do not produce results and those that have outcomes do not need reasons. Tasks are clearly a necessary, but insufficient condition of achievement. Have to stay focused on the WHAT and give people the room to decide HOW!
– Outside-in perspective : biggest antidote to complacency is to get in an external world view. This grounds the organization and roots it in realism as opposed to flamboyance or a make belief world…
Walk faster. Get to the point sooner. Keep interactions short, to the point and always have an agenda for the meeting. Change quickly if things are not working…..just a few ways of creating a daily sense of urgency.
Are you aware of your own lack of urgency?
best wishes
rs