Now urgent to me means that the situation is important enough to require immediate attention; straight-away, no mucking about, decision made, let’s get on with it. Even the online Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as:
urgent adjective 1) requiring immediate action or attention 2) earnest and insistent
Pretty clear really isn't it? Apparently not...
Almost a month later and having touched base regularly we are both still waiting for a decision as to who will fill this apparently urgent need. Now to me this need can’t be urgent even if he’s adamant it is and the organisation cannot afford a delay.
However frustrating this is for both of us the delay is creating cost – directly and indirectly. Leaving aside the fact that I know this project is years (yes, years) overdue and understand the quality of the product expected to go live is substandard; the amount of time and money wasted in the last month is not something to be sniffed at and just adds to the waste that’s already occurred.
Let’s say for example the cost of each person involved in discussing this urgent need is £100 per hour and to date there have been 8 people that I know of involved in various discussions about involving an experienced external person who can, without any agenda, accelerate the pace of readiness then strengthen and deliver the handover process. If each of these 8 people has spent on average 12 hours or 1.5 days during the past month in ad hoc conversations, emails and phone calls, the cost of this alone is £9600. Now that may not seem like a lot of money to many in the corporate world and could be written off as business as usual, but remember I’m only allowing for the 8 people I know of. You still need to add on top the opportunity cost lost in that month. The longer the company takes to sort out their urgent need the more time is lost, which incidentally cannot be regained due to unmoveable deadlines, the less likely they are to gain any traction with business readiness and they continue to spend more on repeat workshops, other vendor / 3rd party involvement, and re-scoping requirements for what could well end up being a product that’s unfit for purpose and unsupportable by operations. It will add up to a very large number though I’d bet a packet of chocolate biscuits that no one is thinking about it like this.
Even though these 8 people are primarily internal and therefore paid for their time as part of their job, it is still incredibly inefficient, financially wasteful, frustrating and results in unnecessary pressure and stress for those expected to deliver regardless of decision makers not being able to make decisions, which brings us back to urgent.
It is very obvious that one person’s urgent is not the same as another’s. When you think you have an urgent requirement take a moment and do a reality check with those around you:
- Urgent according to whom?
- What other agendas support or refute this urgency?
- Who’s actually interested in giving what you think is urgent immediate attention? What’s in it for them?
- Perhaps more importantly, who’s not interested and how could that impact the situation?
- What’s the cost from a delay or no action at all?
- What are the savings or benefits from immediate action?
Perhaps it’s time to take another look at what urgent really means.