5 Keys to On-the-Job Success: No. 2 – Cultivate a Sense of Project Urgency

A sense of project urgency implies that your approach to project work is immediate, purposeful, and resolute. You are decisive about which solution to a problem to embrace after a careful evaluation of the problem, the potential causes, and an assessment of all possible resolutions, and how those fixes should be implemented. Such folks rarely keep others waiting or guessing as to how to proceed next. You believe in completing the project sooner rather than later.

Project urgency is not about operating at a harried pace or panicked mode, or constantly being in overdrive as projects come to a conclusion so you can meet budget or schedules. It’s not about putting out “brush fires,” though they will show up from time to time.  It’s about embracing responsiveness in the day-to-day tasks that focus on outcome or results that ultimately lead to successful project completion without having to endure frequent chaotic spurts.

Let’s briefly examine what project urgency looks like.

  • Cultivating a sense of project urgency involves the ability to prioritize the project tasks or deliverables (a product, document, or service) that provide the biggest payoff to the customer of the project.  Sometimes that involves negotiating with other project stakeholders on priorities, but negotiating priorities keeps the ship moving forward.
  • Project urgency demands focus on the stated deliverable requirements, commitment to the schedule for the deliverable, an obligation to provide the highest quality deliverable, and an awareness of the need to communicate clearly and often to other stakeholders in the project.  That means when the project is given the “green light,” let everyone know who may be a potential expeditor or an obstruction that the project is going forward and work through those process variables that may threaten your momentum.
  • Emphasizing project urgency at the expense of clear and frequent communications often results in unnecessary rework, sacrifice in quality, or an extension of the schedule because some of the parties involved in the project “didn’t get the memo” about steps taken to expedite the project.
  • You can’t toss aside due diligence or frequent progress assessment in order to have a sense of project urgency. In fact, urgency demands an evaluation of what’s working and what isn’t. Throw overboard those tasks, strategies, and meetings that impede your progress, but ascertain first whether they facilitate delivery of the project outcome.

Project urgency is the complement of project ownership. Project urgency is often the offspring of highly motivated individuals who come together and bring a focused, friendly, and self-confident element to the task at hand.


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