According to John Kotter, "The first step in creating a true sense of urgency is to deeply understand its opposites: complacency and false urgency (A Sense of Urgency, p. 19).  The question for you and me?  Which is the more pressing issue?  Complacency?  Or false urgency?  Let’s be clear though, if you’re trying to bring change there’s a pretty good chance that you’re dealing with one or the other (or both).  After all, some 70% of all change efforts never develop enough of a sense of urgency to move any further than a new vision document.

I think I tend to see more complacency.  Wondering about your own organization?  Maybe looking at the definition will help you sort it out: "Complacency is a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger or trouble."  Uh oh.  Did anyone else say "uh oh?"  Here’s how Kotter breaks it down:

First, complacency is a feeling.  Why’s that important?  Because unlike many things it isn’t necessarily based on conscious decisions.  More often, it’s a back of the mind kind of thing.  It’s a feeling.

Second, it’s a feeling a "self" satisfaction.  In other words, individuals often feel like there’s nothing for them to do…that it’s everybody else that needs to address the issues. 

Do either of these two points ring up an "uh oh" for you?  Need to work on it?  Stay tuned.  Kotter’s got a good process laid out in A Sense of Urgency.  Or better yet, pick up your copy right here.

Complacency as the Enemy of Change