imparting urgency

August 2020

one of the tougher challenges in being an entrepreneur/manager is imparting an appropriate sense of urgency to colleagues & collaborators.

what is urgent, what is important, and what’s the right sequence of priorities at any given point changes from context to context (for individuals, teams, counterparts). Yes, there are umpteen tools & frameworks to enable mapping out tasks, but at many levels these choices are filled with ambiguity. 

great teams get this right, and it’s not just the responsibility of the leader to make these trade-offs; done right this is a collective process that is driven by external inputs as much as internal goals & desires. 

there are no right answers, but here are some of my thoughts on what could work: 

  1. Cadence of communication — teams that communicate with a predictable cadence end up having a greater sense of “what and why” to build/execute towards.
  2. Articulation of first order goals — shifting goals is the biggest cause of angst, disagreements, delays, and attrition. It helps to articulate must-haves and nice-to-haves explicitly.
  3. Room for exception handling at all levels — wiggle room for ambiguity needs to be baked in, and is best done by getting (2) right. And, to the extent possible delegating decision making to team members and colleagues is the only way to scale and maintain speed; with the added benefit of creating ownership on outcomes.
  4. Transparency — best way to operate is with great degrees of transparency on metrics, goals, edge cases, and constraints …I’ve seen teams rise to the ocassion in unexpected ways when the constraints are openly discussed and articulated. Hiding or only revealing parts of the picture creates distrust within the camp & leads to polticiking.
  5. Winning spirit — Nothing drives a team more than an urge to win and win-big! …but this needs to be cultivated very actively and frequently.

Pls do not use this as-is, these are my thoughts which are colored by my experiences & biases; so please use it as a guide, and adapt to your context.

ultimately, teams that are on the same page, end up going faster & further together — sounds much easier than practice.

Thanks for reading.

special hat-tip to Sanket for prompting this post, as a conversation we were having on startup hiring.

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