Real urgency is key

Sport and leisure are facing new and exciting challenges and must change significantly in order to stay competitive and sustainable – and it must happen now.

There is a big difference between real urgency and false urgency – sometimes also called panic!

False urgency is a misguided sense of urgency which does have energised action, but it has a frantic aspect to it with people driven by anxiety and fear. This dysfunctional orientation prevents people from exploiting opportunities and addressing real issues.

The worst thing for an organisation is to step into complacency. In a fast moving and changing world, a sleepy or steadfast contentment with the status quo can create disaster – literally.

A big reason that a true sense of urgency is rare is that it’s not a natural state of affairs. It has to be created and recreated. In organisations that have survived for a significant period of time, complacency is more likely the norm. Even in organisations that are clearly experiencing serious problems, devastating problems, business-as-usual can survive. Or it can be replaced by hundreds of anxiety filled, unproductive activities that are mistaken for a real sense of urgency. And in organisations that handle episodic change well, with a big initiative every five years or so, you can still find a poor capacity to deal with continuous change because urgency tends to collapse after a few successes.

This last point is exceptionally important because we are moving from episodic to continuous change. With this shift, urgency will move from being an important issue every few years to being a powerful asset all the time. The urgency question is not limited to any particular class of organization or group. Insufficient urgency, with all of its consequences, can be found in winners and losers, businesses and governments. It can undermine a plant, an office, or a whole country. Conversely, in all of these situations, a high sense of urgency can help produce results, and a whole way of life, that we all desire.

The good news here—and there is good news—is that a changing world offers not only many hazards but wonderful opportunities. Such is the very nature of shifting contexts. To capitalise on the opportunities requires any number of skills and resources. But it all begins with a high enough sense of urgency among a large enough group of people. Get that right and you are off to a great start. Get that right and you can produce results that you very much want, and the world very much needs.

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