How to Create Urgency in Your Organization

Posted On: January 30

I just got a note from a colleague who used one of my organizational effectiveness audits on the business where he works in the Caribbean. The scores were not good.

Here is a portion of his note.

We’ve been stuck at the vision/core values/mission development point for so long. Several committees are supposedly working on the strategic plan, which has been going on forever. I feel there’s a need for a sense of urgency to be injected into our culture. It’s also concerning that the committees generally do not comprise any staff members, which I believe is partly to blame for the lack of urgency.

My thought is that if a culture of action is not present, we’re not going to complete anything. No vision/mission/core value statements, no strategic plan, and no action statements will be completed. Even if we complete them, they may never get implemented because there’s no call or drive to action.

Here is my response

The key to a sense of urgency is an “irresistible case for change.” There must be something that everyone agrees is a serious problem, perhaps a catastrophic problem, that will galvanize them into action. I think the best analogy for you might be a hurricane. People go about their business if it’s far away and not tracking toward your island. People begin to make preparations if it turns and looks like it’s heading toward you. When the track shows it’s going to be a direct hit and a massive storm, there is an enormous sense of urgency. Often, too late.

I would think some of the low scores would be a wake-up call. However, if it’s not a big enough problem, people will ignore it until it does become a big problem. So, you need to communicate that change is necessary. There is no other option.

Which next leads to accountability. If people do not feel responsible and are not held accountable for completing the vision, mission, strategy, etc., then there is no sense of urgency to get it done. There are no negative ramifications. This is one of the hardest things about working with volunteers or senior managers that know they are untouchable. They can ignore the work, and nothing happens to them.

Therefore, building a guiding coalition of key people who will champion the change is critical. You need to get some individuals who everyone trusts and admires. If these people support the change, getting other people on board will be easier. Without this group, you are doomed to failure.

Prioritize the issues to tackle first and use early success as leverage for further change.

Lastly, you can only tackle some of these issues at a time, so it will be essential for you to prioritize which ones will create significant positive results as quickly as possible. Then you can use that success as leverage and motivation to tackle the other issues.

I hope you find this helpful – John

For nearly three decades I have traveled worldwide helping businesses and people to be more successful. During that time, I have discovered that there is a clear pattern of four things that all highly successful organizations focus on. I call it the Formula for Business Excellence. In this free 30-minute video, I will share it with you.

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