The SEG 
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Tyranny of the Urgent

By Tim Deuitch  |  March 12, 2015

Tyranny of the Urgent

Words to work by as we move into Spring: “If you want to move faster, you’re going to need to slow down.” Years ago, this sage advice was given to a non-profit CEO colleague of mine. He accepted and lived by this counsel and enjoyed a 10 year run before moving to another post. Of course it’s easier said than done.

We’re not just supposed to live by our mission and delight our stakeholders, we’re supposed to do it quickly and thoughtfully and with no mistakes. At least we tell ourselves that.

Last week I had the chance to visit with a wonderful client and team. During our session we addressed the ‘tyranny of the urgent’.

In our world, this is the tendency for us to tell ourselves and our fellow team members that the needs and interests of an important stakeholder must be addressed with speed and customization that bring high levels of stress to our organization. The tyranny arises because of two things:

  1. We (not the stakeholder) attach great urgency to responding to the stakeholder interest.
  2. We don’t ask more questions of the stakeholder to ensure that we understand why they need these things and if there might already be resources in place to address their interests.

With ‘tyranny of the urgent’ we use speed and customization as currency vs. quality and meaning. Really – 98% of the time – it’s quality and meaning that our stakeholders crave.

So as we move into spring lets take a deep breath, seek clarity, ask a few more questions, and take it easy on fellow team members. Your stakeholders and your teammates will be glad you did.


Tim Deuitch

Senior Performance Consultant

Tim brings over 25 years of experience working closely with business leaders throughout the Twin Cities and the USA. He has worked within a multitude of workplace cultures and economic cycles, helping leaders and teams improve their effectiveness and results. Since joining SEG in 2007, Tim has continued his work as a change agent, helping organizations meet their goals. Tim graduated from Warren Wilson College in 1983 with a B.S. degree in social work.

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