How to Build a Culture of Urgency

How to Build a Culture of Urgency

Darwin said it's not the strongest or the smartest that survive and thrive, but the quickest to adapt to change.

Speed is everything if you want to run a company successfully.

To do that, you need to build a culture of operating with urgency.

That doesn’t mean you run frazzled or do a million things simultaneously.

Nor does it mean being too flexible and nice when dependent teams tell you, “Go wait.”

Operating with urgency means knowing the one thing you need to do and focusing on it relentlessly.

Here’s a good test to see if you’re operating with urgency:

Look at your calendar.

If it’s filled with back-to-back meetings, then you’re not operating with urgency.

Suppose your house is on fire.

You know you need to extinguish the fire, so you pour buckets of water on it, call the fire department, and do everything to put it out.

You aren’t going to do 20 other things at that time.

But at work, we always go from meeting to meeting, doing multiple things.

This means that we’re not prioritizing things that are important to us.

Urgency is also an attitude.

For example:

Germany’s Autobahn has no speed restrictions, yet it has significantly fewer road fatalities than US highways that have a lot of rules and regulations.


  • A lot of safety training.
  • Common courtesy among people, e.g., if somebody wants to go ahead, you yield.
  • A shared system of values and expectations among drivers.

So, urgency isn’t about more rules.

To operate with great speed, you need a common set of values within your company.

Lastly, urgency isn’t always about repairing the squeakiest wheel or doing what somebody screams the loudest.

It’s about knowing your top priorities and your dependencies and addressing them.

That’s what I mean by operating with urgency.


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