A Sense of Urgency and Bias for Action

The difference between being a market hero or a market wanna-be can come down to everyone on your team maintaining a sense of urgency and a bias for action.

Every organization has problems or challenges that have gone unaddressed much longer than necessary. Likewise, there are ideas that, if quickly implemented, could redefine your marketplace.

Serial procrastination could be one reason that decisions and their execution take longer than necessary. Dr. Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University, has found that as many as 20 percent of individuals may be chronic procrastinators. For them, the consistent gap between good intention and action is extremely difficult to close.

The good news from Dr. Ferrari's research, however, is that most people are merely situational procrastinators. That means you can increase their sense of urgency and bias for action with intentional effort. Here are six strategies that will help:

1. Establish a clear vision for what you want to accomplish and a target date for doing so. Clarity of vision creates focus. Paint the specific picture of what you want to achieve; why it is important; and what it will look and feel like when you have achieved it. Creating an aggressive, but possible, date to accomplish your goal generates urgency. Together they pull you toward accomplishment.

Remember: People support what they help create. Engage others to provide input so that they, too, can be motivated to action.

2. Build confidence and trust. The urgency and action you need to succeed require empowerment, and that is impossible without confidence in trust. The pressure not to make a mistake has never been higher. One misstep can place your organization in a position where it can never catch up to competitors. Likewise, a single mistake can become the proverbial Scarlet Letter that derails a promising career.

Developing knowledge and skills is the minimum to build your confidence in others and the self-confidence of your team. Most important, you must provide the trust and freedom to fail in pursuit of your vision if you want people to take the risk that comes with urgency and action.

3. Create an action agenda. Traditionally, planning identifies all of the strategies and steps for successful implementation. Increasingly, that type of planning slows you down.

An action agenda, on the other hand, is a living document that outlines the steps to achieve your vision.

Identify the actions that must be taken as far as you can see them. Don't worry if your development and implementation plans aren't complete before you begin. You will update them and add details at every milestone. Remember to include barriers that must be overcome and people that you must enlist to support your efforts.

4. Use meetings for discussing and deciding not reporting. Nothing sucks the energy out of a team more quickly than meetings spent listening to reports that could have been read in advance. Provide progress updates prior to the meeting so that participants can prepare. Use the meeting to discuss the status and decide next steps. This will improve accountability and help you maintain the sense of urgency.

5. Adjust the process and agenda. Modify the target date as a last resort. Most people automatically push the target date to accommodate any delay. You, on the other hand, know that moving targets are much more difficult to hit.

There may be times when you must modify your target date. But, this is a last resort. Adjust the work process or add steps to your agenda first. A target that is repeatedly moved will eventually breed complacency.

6. Recognize and reinforce effort. Reward results.
Everyone wants to be appreciated for their hard work. Sincere recognition maintains momentum toward the goal. Just remember to hold the ultimate reward for the delivery of results.

Nolan Bushnell, founder Atari and Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time, said, "Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it who makes a difference."

A sense of urgency and bias for action are often the missing ingredients in making change a strategic advantage. Isn't it time you got started?

Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations achieve positive results in a world of accelerating change. To bring Randy to your organization or event, visit www.penningtongroup.com , email info@penningtongroup.com, or call 972.980.9857.