I’m reading, Kotter’s, A Sense of Urgency, with a client. Early in the book, Kotter distinguishes between genuine and false urgency.

Genuine urgency is initiated by essential strategic priorities that must be accomplished, now, in order to win.

False urgency is driven by frenetic energy to look busy based on a lack of priority, anger, frustration, and mis-alignment.

The issue here is that we’ve fallen in love with the idea of “being busy.” Being busy is a badge of honor. Simply stay busy and you’re a hero. That’s just nonsense.

Being busy is not necessarily the mark of excellence. It could can be the mark of distraction, mis-alignment and insecurity. The perfect storm for working in a rut or without needed focus. To determine, genuine urgency will require us to evaluate more that “activity levels.” It requires the abiliity to look at work from a wide and angle and zoom lens–almost simultaneously–to determine which actions truly matter.

Once we know what truly matters, urgency is about doing that “something” right now in order to move the mission forward.