"A Sense of Urgency" - 2 minute book review

It is hard to disagree with “A Sense of Urgency”, people tend to focus more on the activity rather than output, create a false sense of urgency, resist changes. But is it so bad? Reading the book sometime creates an impression that all industry is doomed. Hard to say, probably, depends on the company and industry.

Anyway, I believe that book brings up very valuable points, I recommend reading it.

A false sense of urgency

This is something I observe pretty often. People tend to focus on activity and short-term assignments forgetting and ultimate goal. Usually, this kind of urgency is caused by anxiety, anger, and past failures. The only way to deal with this, as I see it, is to be self-aware and try to ask yourself a question: “Why are we doing this?”.

IMHO it doesn’t mean that you should not fool around some time with POC. It is a good way to recharge and reset.


So what causes complacency all over the place? Book suggests a few reasons, but the biggest out of them is - past success.

My takeaway from this is to dream big. Don’t make small achievements outshine the end goal. Make sure that there is always a long road ahead.

Create urgency

Eventually, we go over a few pieces of advice on how to improve our sense of urgency. Some of them are easy and actionable, some are rather concerning:

  • Free your calendar and delegate work. This is reasonable, hard to stay focused when you all in a routine job.
  • Bring outside in. The bigger the organization is more management it requires and it gets so easy to get self-absorbed with daily routine. Meanwhile, your competitor might be creating something that will crush your business in one day. Therefore, stay alert: read and share industry news, do usability testing with customers, hire people from outside.
  • Show a sense of urgency every day - Lead by example.
  • Crisis. It can help you to push for unpopular solutions. In case you are already at the bottom - you have nothing to lose. Another way is to create a crisis yourself. (Which is what I meant “rather concerning”)
  • Create business use-case. Creating a good presentation explaining that in case nothing changes you’ll get bankrupt in 5 years could be a powerful tool. Most important here is to win hearts first, then minds.
  • Deal with NoNos (later about it as I find this extremely interesting)

NoNo is not a skeptic

Nonos as described are people who are satisfied with what they have and don’t want any changes. Similar to skeptics, they are late adopters, they ask for data and evidence. But unlike skeptics, they never change their minds because they don’t care about data or arguments. They just want to continue doing what made them successful.

Book proposed a few ways to deal with them, but as for me, the only one that works is to fire such people. Especially in times of changes or crisis they can make you lost precious time.