Improving the Issue-Solving Acumen of Your Leadership Team
Is your leadership team effective at issue-solving? At your next leadership team meeting, ask each member of the team to rate the team’s issue-solving effectiveness from one to ten, with ten being the best. If you would rate your team at a five or less, you are likely experiencing long & ineffective meetings, a team that is stymied by the same problems repeatedly, and a lack of success in your business. A team that rates high on problem solving in their business is often productive, achieving growth, enjoying high morale, and has low turnover. A great problem-solving team is soon to be a winning team! I am not saying that winning teams don’t have problems. Arguably, a winning team encounters more problems as they increase traction and advance. However, when winning teams face problems, they effectively solve them… for the last time, for the greater good of the organization!
One of the simple, practical tools of the EOS Toolbox™, the Issue Solving Track™, outlines a three-step process to improve problem-solving for business teams. The steps lead a team through identifying, discussing, and solving an issue or problem. To begin the process, you first need a list of the issues that need to be addressed. EOS Implementers® call that an “issues list.” Yes, simple, because there is no need to overcomplicate things. This step is easy since every business has issues! Your leadership team just needs to create a culture where everyone on the team is willing and encouraged to raise issues on your issues list. Issues typically fit into one of three buckets: a problem that needs to be solved, an informational update that needs to be communicated to the team, or an idea that needs input or feedback from the team.
Once you have your issues list and your team is gathered to address issues, you need to prioritize which issues to address first. Pick the top three issues you aim to address first and list them 1-2-3. Don’t waste time debating priority, just prioritize them based on the team’s desire or need to tackle first. This prioritization helps to create an expectation that you will solve at least three problems during your gathering. If your team happens to tear through the first three issues, you then simply prioritize the next three issues.
Now, the team begins to IDS™ (or identify, discuss, and solve) the #1 issue.
Identify – A common pitfall for team problem-solving is that the issue as captured on the issues list is not well articulated or is merely a symptom of the real issue. During the “identify” step, the team member who raised the issue concisely restates the issue that needs to be solved and clarifies the type of issue being addressed: problem, info-sharing, or idea feedback. Often the issue may need to be restated several times before the team is satisfied that they understand the heart of the issue. For big, hairy issues the team may need to break the issue into several issues to come to agreement on the core issue to be addressed. Ancillary issues can be captured and added to the issues list to be prioritized later.
Discuss – After team agreement that the core issue has been identified, the team moves to the “discuss” step. This is the step where many teams get stuck. They discuss an issue ad nauseum without ever solving anything giving rise to comments like “beating a dead horse” or “killing a gnat with a sledgehammer.” To avoid this common pitfall there are two important ground rules for discussion:
1. the team should limit the discussion to relevant and pertinent information needed to clarify and solve the core issue, and
2. the team should not repeat information already stated by someone else… that is politicking, and not allowed.
With these two ground rules closely followed by everyone on the team, the group should discuss the issue by sharing pertinent input and actions that might resolve the problem. Once no new input or suggested resolution steps are being offered, the team should move to the “solve” step.
Solve – In the Issue Solving Track, solved means that the team has resolved the issue, in one of three ways:
1. the issue has been completely resolved,
2. short-term action items have been captured and assigned that will completely solve the issue, or
3. short-term action items have been captured and assigned that solve the issue as much as possible until the actions are completed. This can occur with complex issues that need more research, input from outside the team, or intermediate steps for resolution.
The team member that raised the issue is asked if the issue is solved. If it has been solved, the team records and assigns any necessary short-term actions, the issue is removed from the issues list, and the team moves on to IDS Issue #2. Once Issue #2 has been through the three-step process, then the team moves on to IDS Issue #3. Once Issue #3 is completed, the team moves to identify the next three issues to address, listing them as 1-2-3. This process continues until you either run out of issues or run out of your allotted time.
Any business armed with a healthy list of issues and effectively using the Issue Solving Track will see a marked improvement in their team’s problem-solving acumen within 90 days. It is common for effective issue-solving teams to solve eight, nine, or ten issues in a single 60-minute problem-solving session. With a strong issue-solving team, you are well on your way to becoming a winning team!
The Issue Solving Track™ is one of the simple, proven, practical tools of the EOS Toolbox™ and the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. You can download a free copy
from EOS Worldwide at
the following link: www.eosworldwide.com/eos-toolbox.