The dictionaries tell us that ‘urgent’ means demanding prompt action, priority, of pressing importance and working faster than normal.

Though many people might agree with this definition, they might differ in what they mean when they say something is urgent, or in what they understand when others use this word. What is seen as urgent at one level in an organization may not be seen as urgent at other levels, as noted by McDonough and Pearson (1993) in studying the impact of urgency on the performance of product development work. Various stakeholders, suppliers and other contributors to a project could similarly vary in their understanding and their response to work stated as being urgent. As was observed in another large company, working faster than normal may or may not mean priority in the use of resources. Interpretations of ‘urgent’ varied from a very strong and commanding ‘do it now at the expense of everything else’ to ‘business as usual – only quicker’.