2.9.07

Urgent or Important

While reading another piece in Small is the New Big, I was shocked to realize that urgency and importance have very different meanings. I must admit that I’ve been mixing them for a long time. An urgent issue is an issue on which it is needed to decide or act now. An important issue is an issue that matters. Often, the focus is on urgency rather than on importance when it should be exactly the opposite.

The author points out that urgency causes sloppy work and doubtful decisions. It is easy to accept anything when the deadline is coming fast. He suggests addressing, at any point in time, important issues only. I don’t think he means not to act on urgent issues. If the issue is important and urgent then actions are needed. But in most cases, this situation occurs because those who should have acted where diverted by urgency or other form of fake importance. Careful planning and acting early on important items should prevent most of the urgencies.

I must admit that I’m not very good at sorting importance from urgency yet. I’ve realized that distinction only too recently.

From the piece: "They [the companies who act on urgency] are all content to worry about today’s emergency, setting the stage for tomorrow’s disaster." Acting on urgency is short-sighted; acting of importance is for the long term.

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