#1 Pet Peeve — The “Not so Urgent” Request

January 18, 2011

Consulting Business

Perhaps because we are mortal, we have an ingrained impatience (or at least some of us do) with the idea that something will take the time it takes. Which leads to one of my #1 business pet peeves. The anxious client who is worried about how long it will take to do something but then for a variety of reasons introduces delays in the process that reveals that the project was not that “urgent”.

In fact, one almost wonders if the concept of urgent means anything anymore. Our just-in-time world/ instant gratification culture seems to make the word superfluous. Is there anything that people don’t want right away? Think about it. I regularly hear that something is urgent but rarely do I hear the compelling rationale (e.g. the patient will die; the system will collapse).

On the other side of things, of course, is that in our easily distracted, multi-tasking world, it often seems like things take longer than they should – I don’t see a sense of urgency in the way things get done.

Research, especially good research, rarely happens overnight. It requires careful planning, time for reflection, and time for diligent checking and rechecking so as to avoid the costly mistakes. Because while this is an electronic age, it is remarkable how many opportunities there are for human error to occur in the research process.

Things can sometimes occur quickly – often at a much higher cost – but establishing the timeline for a study is a question of trust and integrity that starts with a number of questions.

Why, beyond, the generic we want it quickly, is the work needed urgently? Is there a decision point the research is feeding into? What are the consequences of not meeting the suggested deadline? Answering these questions is the key to developing a true research partnership.

The life of the consultant is… hurry up, wait, hurry up, wait.

While the waiting may be inevitable there is no question that one of the things that eats away at the client-supplier relationship is when the waiting occurs in spite of the previous instances of pressure to hurry up. If we build better partnerships, we get better research so it is important as clients and suppliers that we have better/ realistic conversations about when things can be done and the consequences.

 

 

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About Richard Jenkins

Market research professional and small business owner

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2 Comments on “#1 Pet Peeve — The “Not so Urgent” Request”

  1. Paul Sarkozy Says:

    Great provocative post Richard. I was thinking about this topic the other day when someone asked me when the request I had made was due. I replied it was not urgent and some time next week would do. Then I felt awkward about telling someone that my request was not urgent, as if I had too much time on my hands to plan and think ahead; that there were people who had other things more urgent and time sensitive (i.e. important) than mine.
    The old adage of “good things come to those that wait” seems to be just that – an old adage.

    Reply

  2. Richard Jenkins Says:

    Thanks for the comment Paul. I have experienced that before as well. Hope you are well!

    Reply

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