Here’s one for a rainy Monday morning. 37signals’ experimental 4-day working week is going very well.
When I first compared this enlightened approach to people-management with the drive-them-harder style of Jason Calacanis, it triggered a massive debate, and I wrote a follow-up comparing the Calacanis approach to an evil cult. Last week 37signals reckoned that urgency is poisonous.
One thing Iâ€™ve come to realize is that urgency is overrated. In fact, Iâ€™ve come to believe urgency is poisonous. Urgency may get things done a few days sooner, but what does it cost in morale? Few things burn morale like urgency. Urgency is acidic.
Emergency is the only urgency. Almost anything else can wait a few days. Itâ€™s OK. There are exceptions (a trade show, a conference), but those are rare.
When a few days extra turns into a few weeks extra then thereâ€™s a problem, but what really has to be done by Friday that canâ€™t wait for Monday or Tuesday? If your deliveries are that critical to the hour or day, maybe youâ€™re setting up false priorities and dangerous expectations.
If youâ€™re a just-in-time provider of industry parts then precise deadlines and deliveries may be required, but in the software industry urgency is self-imposed and morale-busting. If stress is a weed, urgency is the seed. Donâ€™t plant it if you can help it.
I can’t agree more. A client phoned once, all a’fluster about an “emergency”. Before I could think, I blurted out the question, “Why? Whose life is in peril?”
Of course no-one was in danger. This client was operating in crisis mode, as usual: that anti-pattern also known as “firefighting mode”: “Dealing with things only when they become a crisis, with the result that everything becomes a crisis.” I’ve written about that before here and with my colleague Zern Liew.