Why do we resist change? After all, we were born to change, but we resist it at every turn. In most companies, plans either fail or only partially succeed because of this resistance or lack of a sense of urgency.

What is a sense of urgency? A true sense of urgency is when people think that actions on critical issues are needed now. A sense of urgency is not, “I must have an operations meeting today,” but it is, “We must have an operations meeting today, and the meeting must accomplish something important.” The first example would be like having a morning huddle with everyone reporting, but no action plan to make today successful.

Before you can truly create a sense of urgency, you must first understand the opposite of urgency. This is called complacency or false urgency. This is when we have a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when you couple it with danger, trouble, or unawareness. I see this more often than not.

Complacency can be seen in companies that have had success in the past but are not willing to continue to push forward. It is evident in what they do and even more evident by what they don’t do. They do not pay attention to new opportunities. They do not pay attention to obstacles. In our world, if you are not willing to urgently move and change, you will slip into a sleep of contentment with the average Joe. This can create a business disaster.

So, how do you identify complacency in your company? Most will never think they are complacent. They will continue to do the same thing day after day, while rationalizing why they shouldn’t change.
They are often afraid of the consequences that could happen with change. Most will never look for new opportunities or roadblocks that could be facing their organizations; they continue to do what has worked for them in the past.

Different from complacency is the false sense of urgency. This is where people seem to have a sense of urgency, but they continue to run from meeting to meeting and schedule long agendas chock full of activities. They seem willing to go against the status quo, but it is often driven by pressures of the business or poor leadership, not the determination to move on and win today.

Some sources of false urgency can be too many meetings with no results or meetings where projects continue to be added without true clarity. The feeling of being overwhelmed is a common response to any new goals, and high stress levels can lead to frustration, depression, or anger.

To create change with a sense of urgency, we must guide our teams. We must share our visions and strategies. We must communicate the why. We must empower our team. We must celebrate all the wins along the way. We must stay focused on the result to make change stick.

The biggest reason we struggle with a true sense of urgency is because it is not part of our natural make up. It must be created and recreated to form a continuous change or process. Without continuous change, urgency will tend to collapse after any levels of success. With change ranging from occasional change to continuous change, a sense of urgency will move from being a critical issue every now and then to a powerful asset all the time.

Publication date: 8/23/2017