Michael Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers writes about his life, his company, and leadership on his blog. In the blog, he provides keen insights for leadership and business. In one of his latest posts, the publisher writes about the importance of urgency and the difference it makes between success and failure.
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.