Some people, when they hear the phrase “a sense of urgency” immediately think that a crisis is brewing and the pace needs to be stepped up to get back to normal, or what we commonly call the “status quo”. However, in today’s business climate and the ever-changing priorities that come with it, can any company really afford to “get back to status quo” for any extended period of time? I don’t think so.
Developing and maintaining an ongoing sense of urgency should be the norm for any company wanting to take a competitive lead in their marketplace. In fact, a sense of urgency should become part of the company’s daily culture and be reflected in everything that they do. This will give them an edge over those who cling to a “business as usual” strategy.
Creating and maintaining a sense of urgency culture in a company doesn’t happen without a great deal of effort to bring about this change, and an even greater effort and commitment on the part of its leader to get the process started, as well as have the courage to stick with it. In essence, the leader needs to take bold action to set the expectation for a sense of urgency culture, and then set the standards for how accountability to it will be measured. Make no mistake, a sense of urgency culture starts with the leader.
To get started creating this sense of urgency culture within your company, consider the following:
- You have to create an orientation towards decision making and action. While reviewing data on which to make a decision is important, you don’t want to get so caught up in data review that you end up studying all the sides of a circle. At some point, a decision needs to be made and action taken. If you make the wrong decision, make another to make it right. Customers and clients want fast action; if you can deliver it correctly, you have a competitive advantage.
- All of the processes within your company must be results driven. Sometimes as companies grow they create layers and layers of rules and procedures. Eventually, they put too many in place and find it difficult to undo them because they have become deeply engrained into the company’s daily operations. The result is that the company becomes slow and cumbersome in the delivery of its service promise – it loses any hope of having a competitive advantage. The leader needs to cut through this bureaucracy (and all of the obstacles that it creates) and eliminate anything that slows down the decision making process and impedes the achievement of the company’s goals.
- The leader needs to re-focus his team’s attention on achieving measurable outcomes – real and measurable results. When companies exist just to maintain the status quo, their teams focus on and measure the wrong things. To them, checking off items on a project list is how they define successful. They become lost in the weeds of tasks and don’t give the desired outcome the attention it deserves.
All around us, every day, we experience what the lack of a sense of urgency looks like. As such, it stands to reason that if you make the decision to create and nurture a strategy built around a dynamic and ongoing sense of urgency, you will earn a competitive advantage. Am I right?
So what are you waiting for?