Reflective Urgency: Critical Thinking AND Acting Quickly

Dialectical Enquiry - Dialectics
Knowledge Center


Best Practices
Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Reflective Urgency: Critical Thinking AND Acting Quickly

The best way to respond to situations depends. One should avoid:
  • Responding (too) quickly to particular situations bears the risk of overseeing important information that could generate collateral damage(s) throughout the process.
  • Responding (too) slowly diminishes the above mentioned risk. However, in this case you might miss opportunities that need a quick reaction or you might get caught flat-footed.
The concept of 'reflective urgency' refers to the ability to consciously but rapidly reflect to the situation, combining reacting quickly with thinking critically.
Sostrin (2017) developed three different strategies that help you to practice reflective urgency:
  1. IDENTIFY YOUR URGENCY TRAPS: first of all, you need to identify the things that make you act often unconsciously - in a counterproductive way when you're under pressure. Common traps include:
    - Multitasking while you actually are working on something that needs full attention.
    - Saying yes to new projects that will costs so much of energy that wisely having said no would have been a better choice.
    Such traps hinder you to reflect on your decisions and actions, which ultimately lead to counterproductive decision making.
  2. FOCUS ON THE RIGHT PRIORITIES: Another issue within the urgency trap is that, instead of focusing on the work that has the highest priority, one focuses on less important work, because it is more fun or because one is just better in doing it (compare: Time Management. It is important to thoughtfully assess and reflect your work so as to critically choose the highest priorities.
  3. AVOID EXTREME TILTS: As already mentioned, it is often not efficient to act in a way that is too close towards one of the extremes. Try to avoid this by critically evaluating your daily responsibilities and each different situation, and consciously choose the most effective balance of the elements of reflection and urgency.
Consciously taking the above steps will help you to practice reflective urgency. It helps you to quickly take decisions and act upon various situations without sacrificing critical thinking.

Source: Sostrin, J. (2017) "How to Act Quickly without Sacrificing Critical Thinking" Harvard Business Review


Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Reflective Urgency is a Key Skill for Managers

Thanks Anneke for sharing this article. Understanding "reflective urgency" is important for all of ... Sign up

Martin Sanders
ICT Consultant, Netherlands

Reflective Morality

The reflectiveness need in an urgency and target-driven society or company would ultimately drive us... Sign up

Strategy Consultant, India

Reflective Urgency is a Contingency Factor in Implementing Long Term and Short Term Planning

The need for reflective urgency arises when there is a clash between long and short term decision-ma... Sign up

Jean-Marc Guillemette, Canada

Reflective Urgency: Focus on Performance

Reacting quickly and making worthwhile decisions requires "living" (i.e. understanding and appreciat... Sign up

Gandhi Heryanto
Management Consultant, Indonesia

Relective Urgency: How to Balance Slow to Respond and Quick to React

In addition to the 3 strategies developed by Sostrin to practice reflective urgency, we might also c... Sign up

Gregory Johnson
Coach, United States

Reflective Urgency? Maintain Sight of the Big Picture

Interesting discussion of common behavioral reactions. While reading the interesting responses I wa... Sign up

Derek Wogu
CEO, Nigeria

Reflective Urgency: Critical Thinking AND Acting Quickly

Very interesting topic and thought provoking responses. I have gone through the great responses abo... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Training for Reflective Urgency

There are similarities to giving immediate medical aid and to military fire-fight situations. The ke... Sign up


More on Dialectical Enquiry - Dialectics:
Discussion Topics
Dealing with Paradoxes in Organizations
👀Reflective Urgency: Critical Thinking AND Acting Quickly
Dialectics Business Case: Toyota
What is Dialectic Ability? Definition
🔥Hypothesis Driven Approach to Strategy Consulting
Paradoxes in Management
Consequences of a Dialectical Worldview
Paradoxical Leadership
Special Interest Group

Do you know a lot about Dialectical Enquiry - Dialectics? Become our SIG Leader

Dialectical Enquiry - Dialectics
Knowledge Center

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
2023 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V16.1 - Last updated: 2-2-2023. All names of their owners.