Four Considerations of Urgent Work

When everything is urgent, nothing is. Gergely Orosz (@gergelyorosz on Twitter) provides a list of four considerations when asked to take on “urgent” work:

1) “What is the impact of this work you’re asking for?” If the impact is unclear: sorry, but we can’t do the work. Why would we?

2) “Do you have a spec that is agreed with stakeholders?” A writeup answering the “why” and the “what” that is signed off by relevant business folks.

3) “We’re not committing to any work before we have done a rough estimation.”

4) Make the cost of dropping what you’re doing very clear.

The fourth item is particularly interesting to me:

This cost is always forgotten by the person coming with the request. But it’s a relevant one: wrapping up work, onboarding to the new work, then later onboarding to the old work. Plus a hit on morale for a sudden change!

When we forget these considerations we are forever stuck in the loop of reacting to urgent work that often isn’t.

Written on July 6, 2022