His latest post, Creating a Sense of Urgency, he relates that urgency often makes the difference between success and failure. Here are his four actions needed to create a sense of urgency.
- Activate. Like many larger organizations, we do lots of analysis. Obviously, this can be helpful. No one wants to go into battle without a carefully thought-through battle plan. But as everyone knows, analysis can easily lead to “analysis for analysis sake.” When this happens, the organization becomes paralyzed. Often the real issue is courage. The point of absolute certainty never comes. It is foolish to assume that it does. Instead, urgency requires that we activate quickly: Make a decision. Get off the dime. Do something!As the old adage goes, “it is easier to steer a moving object.” If you’ve made the wrong decision, you can adjust. But if you wait too long, you miss the opportunity entirely.More than ever, people want fast decisions. Speed can be a competitive advantage. But this requires leaders who are willing to activate and get themselves, their teams, and their projects into motion.
- Accelerate. Urgency requires more than activation. Yes, you have to start quickly, but you also have to keep things moving. Getting a project green-lighted is only the beginning. There are hundreds of impersonal forces (and some personal) that will conspire to slow you down—paperwork, approvals, processes, committees, budgets, etc. Some of these things are necessary—but not as many as you think or the organization would like you to believe.It is the nature of bureaucracies to become self-serving. When they do, the process becomes an end in itself. As a leader, you have to fight this. You have to identify obstacles and remove them. You must keep the pedal to the metal and keep things moving. If you don’t, inertia will take over and your project will die.
- Achieve. Cultivating a sense of urgency is all about producing results. All the stuff that it takes to produce results—paperwork, approvals, processes, committees, and budgets—are not an end in themselves. They are only the means. If you do all this and don’t accomplish your goals, you have lost. Too often people think that the objective is to complete their task list. If they do so, they think they have actually accomplished something. This is not necessarily the case. Tasks are a necessary but insufficient condition of achievement.My goal at Thomas Nelson is to create a culture that is outcome-focused rather than task-focused. I don’t care how we produce the results (within the appropriate ethical boundaries), so long as we produce them. We need to stay focused on the what and give our people room to decide the how.
- Assess. Urgency does not rule out assessment. In fact, it demands it. If we are going to get faster at producing results, we have to assess what is working and what is not. We must then eliminate the waste. Everything should be questioned in light of whether or not it impedes or facilitates the outcome. Does a meeting enable us to move more quickly? If so, great. Call a meeting. But so often we call meetings as a way to procrastinate the decision. Then a single meeting begets more meetings. Before you know it, you’ve built a slow, lumbering bureaucracy.The only antidote is to this is to eliminate everything that does not facilitate the desired outcome. Our job as leaders—as opposed to bureaucrats—is to remove the obstacles and give our people the best chance of achieving their goals and ours.
Michael Hyatt is a class guy in a tough industry. Thanks Mike.