Jim Rohn, Author & Entrepreneur, stated “without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.” Urgency by definition is “importance requiring action.” Dr. John Kotter, Harvard Business School Professor and Entrepreneur, created the Change Management Process (CMP) used by professionals, consultants, and entrepreneurs around the world.
The first step of the Change Management Process [CMP] is to establish a sense of urgency. The purpose of this post is to discuss what, why, and how to create urgency.
What: A sense of urgency is the action required to present the need for change. Proposed change can be one of the harder changes. By nature, people do not like change. Especially change that takes them out of their comfort zones or disrupts habit. A sense of urgency is simply identifying that the current system, product, service, or whatever it is that needs to change is no longer the best option. As such, an urgency must be established to stop such action. Urgency also requires identification and acknowledgement of respect for the efforts that made the current situation. Change can cause an perception of a threat, and threatening what people have done or built is a not a good way to create buy-in for the new change, but rather resistance. So, urgency must be balanced with identification, acknowledgement, and a particular action. Furthermore, the proposed change must be communicated in such a way that it exhibits the urgency of implementation for the sooner rather than later.
Why: Creating a sense of urgency is paramount to change management. The perception of urgent change leads the way of establishing the vision for change. If there is not urgency to change, there will be complacency toward any proposed change. Complacency is simply a state in which there is not enough pain or desire for greater success. As such, people remain doing what they do without the desire to change. By definition, complacency “is a state of self-satisfaction especially when unaccompanied by the unawareness of dangers or deficiencies,”. Complacency is a prime example, why change typically doesn’t work. The ability to not break down the proposal for change initiatives and reasoning for such change leaves the audience to feel reluctant about change. When there is no case to justify that by not changing or remaining the same that a greater amount of harm would occur, change will not happen. Urgency helps to establish the justification and need to act. Establishing urgency has to happen to illustrate occurs of doing nothing or doing something. The gap between the two in an organization typically showcase the urgency factor.
How: Dr. John Kotter proposes four tactics for establishing urgency: bring the outside in, behave with urgency every day, find the opportunity in crisis, and deal with NoNos. The first tactic to bring the outside in is relatively straightforward (in theory) were management connects the internal situation with external opportunities and challenges through imperative data, people, sources, etc. Data aids in building support for the proposed change and also identifies the risk of not doing something. The second tactic is behaving with urgency every day. Doing so aids in creating and maintaining a proactive, flexible, and solutions driven organization. The third tactic is to find the opportunity in crisis. When emergency arises, management can use that opportunity to learn, act, and grow. The fourth tactic is to deal with the NoNos. Dealing with NoNos refers to enforcing the requirements of change and holding people accountable.
In conclusion, establishing a sense of urgency is the first step of the change management process (CPM). Urgency creates the picture behind the need for the change. Urgency moves behavior from complacency to action. Urgency can be established using different tactics; however, Dr. John Kotter recommends: bring the outside in, behave with urgency every day, find the opportunity in crisis, and deal with NoNos. Think about how you can establish a sense of urgency within your firm, clients and vendors. Urgency also builds the first step of the change management process that leads to the second: build a guiding coalition. Stay tuned for the next post that builds upon urgency and can help you understand the what, why, and how factors to build a guiding coalition.
To collaborate about establishing a sense of urgency or change management, certainly feel free to reach out.
Have a wonderful day.
by Katie Doseck, PhD MBA
Chief Visionary and Strategic Ace Up Your Sleeve | Viral Solutions LLC