One (small) thing that COVID-19 has changed for me is the concept of urgency.
Urgency for the sake of urgency has never really appealed to me. Just because someone desires something to be done *right now* doesn’t mean it needs to be completed *right now*. This urgency by edict is disruptive, gets in the way of real priorities, and is often ego-serving nonsense.
Using urgency in this way is common. I’ve been guilty of falling into this (unfortunate) practice, just ask those people who’ve called me a boss.
So in a work world where markets dictate priorities, I believe urgency should be viewed as a window of opportunity.
Something should be urgent not because someone says so, but because there’s a temporary opportunity window open now and it can be difficult to predict just how long it may stay ajar.
A window of opportunity is either open, closed, or in some transition state between the two. When it’s open, it may remain that way into perpetuity. When it’s closed … well it may never open again.
The time between when the window is opened and the window is closed is the opportunity for whatever you’re working on to be 1) a priority and 2) impactful.
It’s rather apparent when a window of opportunity is opened. It’s not so predictable when it will be closed. This is the reason for urgency.
COVID-19 will be a significant window closer. Some windows will open again in the future. Many will not. Those windows that were closed prematurely are lost opportunities for impact, because no longer are they priorities.
COVID-19 was a surprise, even to those experts who saw the risk way back in January. Surprises, albeit usually much smaller than a pandemic, happen in organizations all the time.
Surprises are always causing windows of opportunity to open and close. Once closed, the opportunity has been missed. Creating a sense of urgency isn’t demanding someone to work faster, it’s helping them understand the temporary state of any open window and what it means.