“A continued sense of urgency makes it difficult to take time to be inclusive, encourage democratic and/or thoughtful decision-making, to think long-term, to consider consequences” Tema Okun


Dismantling Racism Works names a sense of urgency as one of the characteristics of a culture of white supremacy.

When I ask the question to workshop participants – what difference could it make to our culture on building sites if we

5. discussed racism, sexism, homophobia and all predjudices every time it happens


16. meet each morning and share how everyone is feeling as well as the tasks for the day

the most common response I receive is

– “there is no time for that” –

there is hardly enough time to share each other’s names on some sites. Most of our building sites are run with such tight margins that time really is money and people are not prepared to make a loss. This has to change.

Tema Okun of Dismantling Racism Works suggests an antidote to creating a sense of urgency is

  • Creating realistic workplans;
  • leadership which understands that things take longer than anyone expects;
  • discuss and plan for what it means to set goals of inclusivity and diversity, particularly in terms of time;
  • learn from past experience how long things take;
  • be clear about how you will make good decisions in an atmosphere of urgency


  • 75. realise that rushing thing takes more time in the long run

Creating a comfortable time frame with plenty of wiggle room allows space for real lives to happen and injustices to be addressed and for us all to learn



I am letting go of pretending that I am in control – Kavitha Rao 

As soon as we have let go of pretending that we know exactly what is going to happen in the future we can then plan for change in our schedules and create tools that can help us adapt to it.

The construction and engineering industry has a reputation for going over budget and running over time. 

“When people are asked for a “realistic” scenario, they envision everything going exactly as planned, with no unexpected delays or unforeseen catastrophes—the same vision as their best case.”

– Roger Buehler, Dale Griffin, and Michael Ross, “Exploring the ‘Planning Fallacy’: 

In other words building projects are planned as if we are machines programmed to deliver a set of pre determined tasks. 

Rather than the reality which is all of building, every single construction project in the world is built by messy humans who are so much more than a schedule and a budget. 

If you look back at every single project you have done I bet that there is always some kind of surprise or change in circumstances. Perhaps as the project progressed the client saw a change that they wanted to make, materials didn’t turn up on time or a problem is found during demolition.   Each time these ‘unique’ events are put down to special circumstances. 

What if we planned for change to happen, what if we accepted that something unique and unexpected is going to happen – we don’t know what – but something will. We know from past experience that something always does. So we create a timeframe that is flexible and can adapt to change happening. And we create a timeframe that has spaces in it to fill up and splurge into.