Is There a Sense of Urgency in Your Workplace?
Despite some recent aggressive measures, BlackBerry's market-share and fortunes continue to decline. The situation BlackBerry faces is quite similar but not exactly the same as Nokia's. While Nokia's decline has been more dramatic, BlackBerry is on the verge of a slower exit.
Many reasons possibly could have contributed to their individual decline, but if we have to look at the stories' similarity, it could arguably be the failure to speedily respond to changes happening in their business ecosystem. In other words, they failed to respond with the sense of urgency needed for them to survive and then thrive.
ehow.com defines a sense of urgency as:
the attitude and process of treating key business or personal matters as if one's life depended on it. It is determination to stay focused on results and deadlines until the task or project is completed.
Leaders use different approaches to create a sense of urgency among employees. Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO, used a popular Burning Platform metaphor to describe in brutal terms how he saw Nokia's business—as an oil rig that's on fire, forcing workers to jump into the North Sea. Clinging to a "burning platform" only means certain death in Elop's thinking. A sense of urgency is not only important for the strategists but also for the organization's employees.
What happens when a sense of urgency is lacking?
The value of working with a sense of urgency can be better understood by knowing what happens if this trait is absent. Employees who do not possess a sense of urgency:
- are perceived as having a casual approach toward work
- often miss deadlines
- miss the vital instructions that could help them do the tasks better
- often miss out to competition
- are often at the receiving end of reminders to complete the tasks
- find it difficult to meet work commitments
- tend to get easily satisfied with the status quo even if it is of average quality
How do you inculcate a sense of urgency?
In the book The Road Ahead, Bill Gates said that a secret to Microsoft's success is that the employees always think of themselves as being on the losing side, and this makes them strive to be number one every day. This attitude creates a sense of urgency, which makes them work hard to survive in the highly competitive environment of the IT industry.
However, a sense of urgency may not always be a positive trait. It does help speed up things, but in a race to overachieve, we sometimes tend to forget the very reason why something is being done in the first place.
Like every worthwhile trait, a sense of urgency should also be exercised with a bit of caution. Thus, embracing slowness is sometimes good, too. But if you are a start-up or an organization needing turnaround, you should incentivize your organization to embrace a sense of urgency.