In the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), the Issues Solving Track tool helps you tackle corporate and team problems. The tool consists of three IDS steps: Identify, Discuss, and Solve. An Issue is an important topic or problem that is up for debate or discussion in your company or teams. Issues are inherent in any business. So if you want to gain traction, you have to foster a company culture that identifies and solves problems as they arise.
Your ability to solve your issues will directly translate into the success of your company, teams, and people. Making tough decisions is uncomfortable. And many people suffer from fear of confrontation, lack of concentration, lack of discipline, lack of commitment, and individual egos. When you procrastinate or fail to take action, it could result in more problems, little progress, and failure.
The tool fosters an open and honest meeting environment within teams to move into problem-solving actions. Many work teams fall prey to Analysis Paralysis and can talk around issues for hours and never progress on resolving the problems.
Instead, you should use the Issues Solving Track, which provides an uncomplicated, timely, and practical way to help you resolve issues using the three steps:
- Identify: Recognize the three most important problems and determine the originating source for each issue.
- Discuss: Talk about possible solutions and establish an action plan to resolve the issues.
- Solve: Resolve each issue with the action plan and designate someone responsible for resolving each issue.
In EOS, tackling issues are necessary to corporate operations such that Issues is one of the Six Key Components. EOS as a comprehensive tool kit to help leadership teams improve and grow their organizations. To learn more about EOS, you should check out our summary of Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.
The first step of the Issues Solving Track tool is to Identify. First, the team must determine the three most important issues and address them in order of importance. Remember, if you think that every issue is important; then, none of the issues may be important.
Within your team meeting, you should deep dive into figuring out the actual issues. Typically, the initially determined issue is a symptom and not the real problem, which is hidden a few layers deep. Through the initial discussions, your team will determine the specific problem and write it in a concise problem statement.
When determining the root problem, it is helpful to understand the three types of issues:
- An issue that can be solved by someone or several people on your team.
- Information that must be communicated and agreed to by members of the group.
- An idea or opportunity that needs other team members to provide feedback, help brainstorm, or give approval.
The Identify discussion can be uncomfortable and challenging, as most issues are caused by people. Thus, someone on your team may be responsible for the issue. The team has to be willing to cut through the discomfort, be open and honest, and trust one another. This step may take the longest, as it’s tough to identify the real problem. However, once figured out, the Discuss and Solve steps should not take as long.
The second step of the Issues Solving Track tool is to Discuss. Many teams and people can spend a lot of meeting time in the Discuss step. They failed to identify the root issue and discuss in circles for a while, and never figure out a solution. In the Identify step, you and your team clearly identified the root cause, so you can all now suggest potential solutions to the problem in the second step. If your team successfully identifies the issue, the solution may become apparent.
Next, you should decide on a plan of action to solve the issue. Have team members come forward and suggest solutions. When members start contributing potential solutions, it fosters an environment for discussion. Other team members can react and provide their own thoughts about the issue. You want to foster an open environment in which members have a healthy tension and suggest solutions for the greater good of the organization.
A big reason that teams get stuck in the discussion is tangents, which are divergences from an original purpose or course. Tangents cause team members to get off track and be unproductive in solving the actual issue. In Traction, Gino Wickman suggests that members say “Tangent Alert” as a friendly triggering mechanism to get the discussion back on track. If the tangent is an issue worth solving but is irrelevant to the current conversation, add it to the Issues List and run through the Issues Solving Track based on priority.
When your team finishes the discussion step, you should have an action plan that includes potential options, metrics, solutions, and concerns for that specific issue. Additionally, the team can move to the Solve step of the Issues Solving Track.
The last step of the Issues Solving Track tool is to Solve. This step involves solving the issue using the plan of action from the Discuss step. The team will create an action item on a todo list and assign someone responsibility for the solution. After the meeting, that person will execute and complete the task, and the issue will be finally resolved.
In the Issues Solving Track, your team will solve Issues in one of three ways:
- The issue gets solved in the meeting, and someone is responsible for executing the action item. The assigned individual will follow the action plan, assemble the resources and people, and resolve the issue. After completion, the individual will notify the team at a follow-up meeting.
- The issue is a lack of awareness in the team or between members. Solve the problem by conveying information to the team members that need to be notified.
- The issue requires more information to solve. Thus, the manager should assign a team member to conduct further research and present the results at a follow-up meeting. The individual should provide their thoughts on the root cause, potential solutions, and concerns.
You should make meeting decisions with the company’s best interests in mind to achieve the corporate vision. In EOS, you should have implemented your Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) before effectively solving your issues. The V/TO document provides “who and what your organization is, where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there.” When you have a clear picture of the long-term direction, then decisions become more straightforward in that context.
Ten Commandments of Solving Issues
To master the steps in the Issues Solving Track, you should use the Ten Commandments. These rules will help your team prioritize and solve problems effectively, decisively, and for the betterment of the organization and teams:
- Do Not Rule by Consensus: When the team fails to agree upon a solution, the manager or a designated person should decide on the course of action.
- Have a Strong Will and Resolve: The answer can be complicated, so you and your team must be disciplined in deciding upon the resolution.
- Be Decisive: You and your team need to make firm decisions about the solution, knowing you can course-correct during execution.
- Do Not Rely on Secondhand Information: You should have all the relevant individuals included to provide primary information important for deciding on the solution.
- Fight for the Greater Good: Teams can get overwhelmed by emotions, egos, fear, and lack of focus, so it is essential to stand above that for the greater good of the company.
- Solve Issues in Order of Priority: There will always be new issues to solve that get added to a neverending list. Therefore, you should work through your problems by order of priority.
- Resolving Issues in Three Ways: There are three means to resolve issues: you can either live with it, change it, or solve the problem. You should avoid trying to live with a problem.
- Choose Short-Term Pain for Long-Term Gain: Your team should prioritize solving issues as soon as possible, as lingering issues will continually impact your organization.
- Take on the Most Fearful Issue: Do not be afraid to conquer the problems that seem the scariest. We grow the most in uncomfortable situations.
- Don’t Wait and Propose a Solution: Have team members put themselves out there and suggest a solution to orient the discussion and help the team decide on potential solutions.
I hope this post helps you take on the most challenging issues in your company. If you have any further questions or need additional help, please comment below or send me an email. Also, if you want more Process Hacker content, you can subscribe to our short weekly newsletter on Productivity, Habits, and Resources.