Skip to content

Tackle New Projects After Prioritizing the Old Ones

January 5, 2015

The new year is a good time to think about trying fresh initiatives that can help move you or your organization forward. But if you want them to be successful, you need to manage the time involved. Don’t give yourself or your team more assignments without finishing or taking some away first. If you don’t have and communicate clear priorities, you won’t and your team won’t know what’s important and what can wait, and it won’t be long before almost everyone feels stressed. If old initiatives aren’t moving forward quickly, look for ways to increase the sense of urgency to get things finished.

People begin to feel stressed for a number of reasons. For some, it might be about the change in focus from something that is unfinished. They may fear the unfinished state of their work will impact them in the future. Or they feel compelled to strive for perfection. For others, it might be the desire to move on and get into something that seems more exciting to them. For those, finishing something may seem boring and tedious – another form of stress.

A sense of relentless urgency is needed. 

People generally don’t want to reorganize, so they don’t think clearly about what is needed or pay attention to competent recommendations from others. They rely on their conventional thinking which results in things happening too slowly and expensively. They believe their current thinking about change is just fine when, in fact, it is not.

John Kotter's 8 steps for accelerating change

John Kotter’s 8 steps for accelerating change

Relentless urgency is a key competency in highly successful people. Why is that?

There are less visible forces at play when it comes to project completion and change implementation. These are very powerful forces because they are systemic. Organizationally this might be a key political stakeholder who doesn’t like change or a management-driven hierarchy built for reliability and efficiency but not ideal for supporting change. On the personal or individual side, the systemic forces may come from your personal motivators, behavioral style or learned soft skills.

Project culture dictates success or failure

Procrastination…………………………………………………………….Relentless Urgency

High Risk of Failing……………………………………………………..High Risk of Success

Higher costs ………………………………………………………………….. Cost optimization

Lost opportunity ………………………………………………. Opportunity leveraged fully

Regardless of where the sense of relentless urgency comes from, if you have goals, unfinished projects or new projects you want to take on, you must bring relentless urgency to the forefront of your unfinished projects.

Urgency, in the sense we are discussing here, means that you wake up every morning and have, somewhere in your head and heart, a compelling desire to do something to move toward a big strategic opportunity. Connected to that big strategic opportunity is a targeted, passionate juggernaut that allows you and the team to sustain relentless urgency to complete your existing projects. If a more exciting idea or opportunity presents itself, decide first to cancel the unfinished work before prioritizing the new opportunity. If the unfinished work is deemed necessary and must be done, hold the new idea or opportunity hostage to the completion of all existing work. You may even use the time sensitivity of the new idea or opportunity to drive a new, more aggressive time line for the unfinished work.

To learn more about change management and relentless urgency, read XLR8 by John P. Kotter.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: