Urgency

By November 9, 2009blog
I am one of the most impatient people I know. I have urgency in my blood to see things come to life. I can’t help it. I LOVE ideas that turn into reality. I love the applause of new customers, and taking it up a notch for old ones. I breath it, I love it, and I sometimes drive the people around me crazy with my impatience for creating more of it NOW.

I’ve become more aware of my impatience/urgency over the years and have noticed a similar trait in entrepreneurs who have grown great companies. I was talking with one very successful friend about this and our system for creating urgency with our teams:
1. Discuss & assign a project with an urgent time frame
2. Wait one week
3. Ask how it’s progressing…
Good progress = applause and celebration
No progress = ALL OVER it/get involved/reassign/unblock/raise the urgency level
4. Repeat cycle every week with as many projects as possible

When projects take more than a week. I like to do one of two things:
1. reduce the scope of the project to be able to get it done in a week
2. split the project into chunks that can be done each week
Letting progress go beyond a week increases the likelihood that it will get lost. A cool offshoot of this process is it also forces everyone to prioritize and ask more about which tasks should have higher priority… leading to better ROI thinking for everyone.

This type of progress and intensity doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve found that those who love to push the envelope and be challenged, like it. Those who like things to stay the same and do the same thing everyday, don’t like it (they tend to be better at maintaining existing systems). Smaller high-growth companies need more people who enjoy challenge and change. Bigger companies that move slower, need more people who like to maintain existing systems. Personally I’ve found that I need the people who I work directly with to thrive with challenge and change. If they don’t then it’s uncomfortable and I tend to piss them off and burn them out quickly.

Also, it’s important to not confuse urgency with rash decision making. It’s important to take time to make big decisions and set priorities (but not more than a week).

Urgency is the key to iterating like hell into what will make our companies more and more successful. Are we driving enough urgency? Do our core people thrive on urgency?

If you ever want inspiration for the “Urgent” (and a good laugh) just watch this…

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