Chapter 7 Key skills for effective cooperation

‘I don't think you understand, Dermot. We work in an industry that is highly reactive, and our clients expect us to drop everything when they contact us.'

A senior manager of a tech company put this argument to me quite recently at a presentation I was giving. Sadly, I have heard it many times over the past 20 years, from people in different industries, including technology, professional services, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, banking and government.

Everyone thinks their experience is unique in this regard, but I have found it is pretty much the same in every industry.

Urgency rules, everywhere.

This focus on urgency is a cancer that kills productive collaboration on our projects. I have seen a significant change in organisations over the past two decades. Everything has sped up. Urgency plays a major role in how we prioritise and manage our time.

Managing urgency

This urgency, and the reactivity it generates, derails our ability to cooperate in a productive way. In today's workplace, many of the poor behaviours that cause friction come from our, or other people's, failure to manage work in a timely way. So what has brought about this change?

One factor is that we are now working in a global workplace, with colleagues and clients in different time zones. This certainly has an impact on expectations and turnaround times. Another is the increased competition we face these days, which means any lack of responsiveness ...

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