Establish a sense of urgency

The Problem

Meaningful organisational change cannot occur without the cooperation of the affected stakeholders. As a result, creating a sense of urgency for a needed change is the first step senior leaders must take to gain the cooperation of management and employees. Creating a sense of urgency alerts the organisation that change must occur and it begins the preparation for change. It must be done well for a change effort to have a meaningful organisational impact.

The Approach

Senior leaders create a sense of urgency by both selling the value of a future state to organisational stakeholders and making the status quo a dangerous place for the stakeholders to remain. In effect, senior leaders create a compelling narrative that tells stakeholders why it is not in their best interest for the organisation to stay in its current state.



here are several steps senior leaders can take to create a sense of urgency and gain the commitment of managers, employees, and other stakeholders. They include:

  • Showing the seriousness of senior leadership commitment to the coming change by eliminating obvious waste;
  • Sharing bad news with the organisation;
  • Requiring managers and employees to talk regularly to unhappy teams, colleagues, customers and other stakeholders to understand their concerns directly;
  • Sharing data throughout the organisation that supports the claim that change is necessary; and
  • Ensuring organisational decisions and management actions are in agreement with change communications (walk the talk).

To lead a change effort and gain the cooperation of necessary stakeholders, the first step senior leaders must take is to create a sense of urgency. It requires clear and honest communications that create a sense of urgency rather than a sense of doom.

By creating both a compelling picture of a desired future and the danger of accepting the status quo, senior leaders greatly improve their chances of gaining the commitment of organisational stakeholders for a necessary change effort.


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