Every decision, experiment and dollar spent influences how long a venture remains in the market. For that reason, most founders think about urgency in terms of results. The number of conversions from marketing campaigns, deals closed by the sales team or product updates shipped.
And this is almost the right way to frame urgency.
However, it falls short because it doesn’t take into account two factors that are unique and different for every hire. First, how they value time and second, their rate of learning.
Not knowing about these two factors for each new hire usually means a founder’s call for urgency will be misunderstood or seem to fall on deaf ears. Even if the new hire’s desire is to respect the founders’ expectation to be (more) urgent.
And this is why I think urgency is a product of how someone values time and their rate of learning.
Assuming a new hire buys into the founder’s vision, they will arrive wanting to make an impact. If they think achieving their first milestone quickly equates to six months and their rate of learning is slow then it’s fair to say their impact will be (very) low.
This usually unfolds with the new hire investing four to six months in pursuing one or two key activities. These big bang efforts draw down on company capital, come with stories of how they worked at previous organisations and promise learnings upon the final milestone being achieved.
In contrast to this worse case scenario, a new hire is quick to set up a framework that validates hypotheses of the ways things are done today and another set of experiments to move the dial forward in the first 30, 60 and 90 days.
Implicit with the latter hire is a test and learn approach to cast fresh eyes on how business is done today. They are also focused on creating momentum in their job area. This is also inherently more cost-effective because they can course correct as they learn.