“… I fear their false urgency, their call to speed, their insistence that travel is less important than arrival …”
“Who will save me from existence?
It isn’t death I want, or life, it’s the other thing.”
To be clear.
I hated the false ‘prepare to meet thy death’ moments <under the guise of ‘this is urgent’> a shitload of managers create in business.
And, as I wrote awhile back, I really believe most managers do not really create them but rather they simply cannot discern between a true “meet thy death” scenario versus a “a calculated action is called for here.”
But what I absolutely abhor is a falsely created sense of urgency … in other words … ‘cry wolf’ simply to heighten a sense of urgency.
I do not begrudge true calls of “potential wolf” scenarios nor do I hate ‘whoa, there is a real wolf!’ scenario … but … far too often someone calls ‘wolf’ simply to play on people’s fears … just to do something they want to do <because it makes them look like they are doing something good>.
This came to mind because of Trump’s ‘travel ban.’
It came to mind as I sit here maybe two weeks after the “it must be instituted for the safety & security of America” and … well … not only is the initial Trump plan on hold … there is no activity being done to “insure the safety & security of America.”
One <me> is left to think one of two things … <1> my president has said “I am taking my ball and going home if you do not want to play with me” and doing nothing, or, <2> there was no real ‘safety & security’ risk.
Either of these two scenarios suggests to me a false sense of urgency and an incompetent ‘wolf crier.’ I should have been chewed on by some wolf or seen at least one frickin’ wolf by now … shouldn’t I? … or maybe shouldn’t I have seen some “okay, then we will immediately institute this” type activity … shouldn’t I?
I won’t comment on the Trump “Muslim” ban because anyone with two eyes could see it was a PR stunt gone awry.
But let me comment on generating a sense of urgency and getting shit done properly.
I will begin by referencing an obscure article which can be found in the Academy of Management Journal <Brian Gunia & 3 co-authors of Johns Hopkins> and a book “Wait: the art and science of delay” <Frank Partnoy>.
And in doing so I get to talk about one of my favorite topics: doing the right thing <ethically>.
I found it really interesting that in a series of experiments slowing down actually makes us more ethical <I had to reread this several times because I guess in my own head I would have thought our initial knee jerk reaction to a decision situation would have been us at our most ethical … but I was wrong>.
When confronted with a clear choice between right and wrong, people are 5 times more likely to do the right thing if they have time to think about it rather than if they are forced to make a snap decision. In addition they studied businesses and suggest organizations with a ‘fast pulse’ <like banks> are more likely to suffer from ethical problems than those who move more slowly.
Forced time pressure <false sense of urgency> enhances the odds someone will make a less ethical, less right, decision.
Beyond that … the books and research suggest that delaying decisions <not yielding to time pressure> actually enhances the quality of the decision.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I know there is a ROI on time and delay and decision making … I imagine if I were smart enough I could draw out a decision utility graph with time and quality of decisions but I am not only not smart enough I also cannot draw.
Therefore … I get to point out that these relatively smart guys say exactly that in their published papers.
The other thing about sense of urgency and achievement … is … well … what we want.
I have referred to this as the relentless wretched “in between” before.
Sense of urgency & time pressure squeezes us through emotion <fear> while we assess what we really want <this can be tangible or it can be more higher order ‘purpose’ type thinking>.
I say all that because while purpose in Life is a good thing and very productive and makes us feel really good … most of us kind of want something a little more tangible. And I say that as more of an intangible “higher order achievement satisfaction” guy.
What I mean by all this is that if you are gonna cry wolf … if you are gonna encourage me to have a sense of urgency … I want some proof at the end.
I want a dead wolf or a captured wolf or a pack of wolves I can see have been kept at bay.
Therefore, this urgency crap resides in the sometimes nebulous wretched hollow of the in between of Life & death,
Someone who has the responsibility of managing ‘urgency’ and ‘crying wolf’ also bears the burden of the fact I, the one who inevitably has to respond to all of it, want everything.
“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.”
In other words … ‘I want everything because urgency implies I could lose everything.’
I believe it was Jorge Luis Borges who wrote about a place called ‘the City of the Immortals’ which was a city of ‘abandoned place full of lame, unfinished architectural experiments and streets that don’t lead anywhere.’
In other words … the people never bothered to complete anything because, being immortal, they could always come back to it later.
My point in sharing that is to say that it is death, or survival <mortality>, which shapes life and gives it structure. Therefore when you create a sense of urgency you are forcing some structure on people’s lives.
When you find yourself acting with some urgency more often than not it is because you are trying to outrace some version of mortality.
And my point in sharing that is … well … if you are gonna fuck with my Life structure and you are gonna fuck with my thoughts of mortality … you better fucking believe I am gonna pay attention to why you have created this sense of urgency.
You would be stupid to not think I will not care and hold you responsible.
Cry wolf at our own peril.
Instill a sense of urgency at your own peril.
Most of us have enough shit going on in our lives without having bad misguided managers & bad misguided leaders guiding us to do misguided things under the guise of some false sense of urgency.
Patient quickness leads to not only more ethical behavior <which I wholeheartedly support> but it is also leads to higher quality actions <which I wholeheartedly support>.
I think we should all be wary of asked for ‘sense of urgency.’ More often than not it is misguided. And I say that as, personally, a relentless ‘doer’ and someone who is most happy ‘doing shit’ <preferably ‘good shit’>. I have found ‘doing good shit’ acquires its own pace and rarely requires some nudges of ‘urgency.’
But. That’s me.
“My death awaits among the falling leaves. In magicians mysterious sleeves. My death waits in a double bed. Sails of oblivion at my head.
Pull up the sheets.
Against the passing of time.