Reactivity is a choice

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 4th August 2020

With the launch of my new book Urgent! this week, I have been talking to the media a lot about, you guessed it, urgency. One of the most common questions I get from journalists is,  “How can we reduce reactivity when we are working in highly reactive environments?” Even though they are interviewing me in an objective way, I cannot help but feel there is a personal interest in the answer to this question.

Journalists are under constant time pressure with deadlines, and with today’s 24/7 news cycle requirements, are often under the pump to deliver new content at the drop of a hat. So, the discussion about urgency must feel very relevant to them.

Many of my clients also feel under the pump and under constant pressure to deliver on urgent deadlines. Reactive environments are not that unusual, and not exclusive to the media industry.

So how do we work more proactively
in a reactive environment?

We start by making a choice. Reactivity is a choice. So is proactivity. And we always have a choice. Train yourself to not react, but instead to evaluate the situation and make the best decision about your next step.

Paramedics are trained to never run into the scene of an accident. No matter how bad it is, they are trained to walk into the scene in a measured, calm fashion. This serves two functions. It allows them to assess the situation to work out what is happening, and what risks might be present to them and to others. Secondly, it inspires confidence in the people on the scene. You don’t want to see the paramedics panicking!

I reckon we could take a lesson from this. We could work on how we react to urgency and try to take a more measured approach to incoming issues and requests. We can coach our teams to do the same.  This does not mean that we will stop responding to urgent work in an appropriate way. It simply means that we will begin to differentiate between the productive urgency that requires our attention and the unproductive urgency that can derail our day.

It is your choice.

Smart Teams – Urgency Culture online session

If you and your team feel you are working in a reactive environment, and would like to explore some practical strategies that can help you to moderate the urgency and to create a more proactive culture, let’s have a chat about how our Smart Teams Urgency Culture session would help.

We run this 2-hour session online for groups of up to 25 participants as a part of our Smart Teams series. The session comes with an Urgency Playbook, and 10 team agreements that will start to shift your team culture from reactive to proactive.

Reach out to me personally at if you would like to discuss how this practical online session could help your team in these challenging times.


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