STEP 1: Create a Sense of Urgency

Help others feel a gut-level determination to move and win, now

In their rush to make a plan and take action, most companies ignore this step — indeed close to 50% of the companies that fail to make needed change make their mistakes at the very beginning. Leaders may underestimate how hard it is to drive people out of their comfort zones, or overestimate how successfully they have already done so, or simply lack the patience necessary to develop appropriate urgency.

Leaders who understand the importance of a sense of urgency are good at taking the pulse of their company and determining whether the state of the organization is:

Complacency - Complacency can occur whether your organization is at the top of their market or facing bankruptcy. It's a state where people fail to react to signs that action must be taken, telling themselves and each other, "Everything is fine."

False urgency - People are busy, working-working-working, but their actions don't result in helping the business succeed in their primary goal. This leads to unproductive results, and eventually, burnout.  

True urgency - People are clearly focused on making real progress every single day. Urgent behavior is driven by a belief that the world contains great opportunities and great hazards. It inspires a gut-level determination to move, and win, now.

There are some tried and true ways companies go about creating true urgency. Usually the urge is to skip to the doing rather than spend the required time it takes to get a significant number of employees urgent. Here are the most common ways companies fail and succeed at establishing true urgency:

Guaranteed to Fail:  The problem in failed change initiatives is rarely that the case for change is poorly thought out, or not supported with sufficient facts. A solid business case that has a theoretically "compelling" rationale only appeals to people's head and not their heart.

Guaranteed to Succeed: Leaders who know what they are doing will "aim for the heart." They will connect to the deepest values of their people and inspire them to greatness. They will make the business case come alive with human experience, engage the senses, create messages that are simple and imaginative, and call people to aspire.

 Go to Step 2. Creating the Guiding Coalition >> 

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