Soundview Executive Book Summaries

A Quick, Urgent Read
December 3, 2008, 5:11 PM
Filed under: Strategic Management | Tags: ,

You can’t really have a sense of urgency if you’re bogged down in a 350-page business book—packed full of charts and sidebars, of course—right? I think that’s what Harvard Business School’s Konosuke Matsushite Professor, Emeritus John Kotter was trying to achieve with his succinct 128-page A Sense of Urgency, and quite frankly he succeeded.


According to Kotter, “True urgency is a gut-level determination to move and win, now.” It’s about alertness, a desire to achieve something important, and a readiness to ditch what is not crucial. A sense of urgency must be created in order to engage employees in making the changes a business needs—without urgency, employees can  fall into a comfortable blanket of complacency, and then all hopes for constructive change is doomed.


 Sounds pretty intense, right? Maybe, maybe not, but for one thing, Kotter is sure to inform readers that A Sense of Urgency is not about having stressed out employees—if anything, that can create gridlock and hinder performance.


It’s a quick read, and I think almost all managers, as well as their reports, could benefit from Kotter’s book. He’s no-nonsense (who has time for nonsense anyway?) and provides managers the tools they can work with, immediately.


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