A sense of urgency and questions to ask

I have been reading a bunch of books these past few months. One of them I just finished was A Sense of Urgency, by John Kotter.

Kotter explains urgency, but further explains that a false sense of urgency an organization might have is worse than complacency. Running from meeting to meeting and filing your day with activities to make it like you are truly busy busy busy. But, “A false sense of urgency, may be even worse than complacency because it drains needed energy in activity and productivity. (P 6)”. So a false sense of urgency is worse than complacency.

So what are you personally currently complacent about? Where has your organization grown complacent? Does your organization have a false sense of urgency?

Kotter clarifies that a sense of urgency is actually more feeling than it is intellect. “Underlying a true sense of urgency is a set of feelings: a compulsive determination to move and win, now.” … “Feelings are more influential than thoughts.” … “Great leaders win over the hearts and minds of others”… “Great leaders win the minds and hearts of others. Heart comes first.” (p. 45). Kotter further explains, “Our brains are programmed much more for stories than for PowerPoint slides and abstracts ideas. Stories with a little drama seem to be enjoyed by our feelings and, more importantly, are remembered far longer than any dry slide filled with analytics. (p. 54)”

How can you create stories around the issue at hand to create a sense of urgency? What personal stories can you use professionally to create the sense of urgency your organization needs today?

Kotter says, “With a culture of urgency, people deeply value the capacity to grab new opportunities, avoid new hazards, and continually find ways to win. Behaviors that are the norm include being constantly alert, focusing externally, moving fast, stopping low-value-added activities that absorb time and effort, relentlessly pushing for change when it is needed and providing the leadership to produce smart change no matter where you are in the hierarchy… Create the behaviors you want (p. 185).”

What about your organization culture, does it have a culture of real urgency?

“Focus on quick and easy…. Be opportunistic. Try something… Whatever you do, look for feedback. If an action does not help, abandon it. If it works well, consider doing more. Make something happen….  Raise the culture question: “Is the way we do things around here a barrier to ____?” (p.190-191)

In your organization, where can you focus on the quick and easy to build a sense of urgency?

I am going to continue to dive into some of the tactics in this book a bit deeper in blog posts in the future. This is just to get you thinking about change…

Read more: The Biggest Mistake Kotter sees

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