Friday, May 16, 2014

Not Everything that is Important is Actually Urgent

Some tasks and projects require more urgency than others. However, if we consider everything to be urgent, we clog our work queue and confuse trivialities with important priorities. Sometimes the challenge we face as a manager is to distinguish between what is actually urgent and what is not.

Consider these tips to help you determine what truly is urgent.

Don’t assume that “Urgent” means “Immediately”
Explore with the person that made the request of you what they are really trying to accomplish and when it’s actually needed. Sometimes the sense of urgency is just a way of conveying a person’s importance and power, or even a reflection of personal anxiety. Giving that person a little bit of your time before starting on their request may be sufficient for them to be assured you understand their request and its urgency. Then, you will have the opportunity to determine when you will actually need to address the request.

Distinguish between an urgent crisis and an urgent request
There are times when people making a request have issues that need to be resolved right away, and diving in immediately is the right thing to do. But depending on your business, this may actually be the exception rather than the norm. Probe the person that made the request of you about what would happen if you got back to them in a couple of days or the next week. Often, as long as you commit to a specific completion time, that will be sufficient.

Be prepared to say "No"
Good customer service doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything that the person requests. More importantly it means doing what is best for them, even when they may not realize it. Talk through the implications and outcomes of what the requester is asking for and make sure it’s the right thing to do. Explain your reason why in order to get them to understand and agree.


The PICK chart illustrated at the top of this post is a tool used for organizing and categorizing process improvement ideas in a Lean Six Sigma project. The acronym stands for Possible, Implement, Challenge, Kill.

David Schuchman

3 comments:

  1. David:

    Excellent advice to everyone, especially Project Managers. This methodology is simple and effective.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, David! Nice contribution.

    Jenny Ditzler's Best Year Yet planning method calls time invested in the (Important-Not Urgent) quadrant as "Gold Time" because of its value.

    ReplyDelete

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