ASATA: Breaking the bonds of urgency bias


We live in a world where taking quick action is prized above many other business traits; an ability to move quickly and decisively without paralysis by analysis, a sought-after skill that makes a positive difference to any business.

So much so, that even if we’re not in ‘emergency mode’ or ‘fighting fires’, we sometimes find a way to change the status quo and lapse into survival mode. We create urgency where there need be none.

It was with interest that I recently read an article about urgency bias and how it kills productivity. The report made me think how urgency bias, which researchers say is an inherent flaw in human condition, could influence business travel negatively.

As humans we seek instant gratification – we prioritise urgent, unimportant tasks that take less time to complete, than important tasks that take longer, because we want the immediate satisfaction of achievement. The long road may be harder, but getting it right would make a more meaningful difference to the task, the ultimate goal or the business.

In business travel, our urgency bias could lead to several business travel practices that, in the short-term may yield quick results, but in the long-term do little for the productivity of our road warriors and achieving our business goals. The quick wins aren’t always wins. In fact, they’re quite often long-term losses.

As a practical example, urgency bias caused by management demands to reduce travel costs may deliver that quick win, but will negatively impact the long-game of staff productivity, retention and achievement of the company’s goals.

Skimping where you shouldn’t causes traveller friction and mistakes that quite often cost far more to fix. And that’s where the cool head of a strategically-minded travel management company comes into play.

Balancing your urgency bias with a long-term view and your business goals, your TMC may not always tell you what you want to hear, but their strategic insights into corporate travel and your business will be a worthy tool in your arsenal to combat urgency bias and its negative impacts on your business.