Post #5 in a multi-part series from the excellent book Traction by Gino Wickman

The Issues Component

Have the guts to face your issues.  Your ability to be successful is in direct proportion to your ability to solve your problems.   Solve problems, not just identify them.  It’s more important THAT you decide than WHAT you decide.  Unresolved issues can make a company implode.   Create and issues list and an issues solving track

Issues List:  Everyone has them.  Get over it.

There are really only are a handful of issues in the history of business.   You have to create a workplace where people feel comfortable bringing up issues and have a system to smoke them out.

Communication happens naturally when you make the work environment safe.  It is your job as a leader to make sure that it comes off as constructive and they are safe.   Make it visible that you have your list and are working on them too.  Keeps issues in the open and being worked on.

There are 3 types of issues lists

  1. All company issues that can be shelved beyond 90 days.   Generally big things or if you have more important fish to fry
  2. Weekly Issues List:  Shorter timeline.  Strategic in nature.   Things that need to be escalated.   If don’t need to be escalated, solve it within the dept.  The pieces you are doing to solve the issues in #1
  3. Departmental Issues List:   Can be handled within group.   Handle in weekly meetings.

Issues Solving Track:  Making meeting NotSuck

Problems generally don’t get solved due to fear of conflict, lack of focus, lack of discipline, personal ego, etc.   So you have to define a formal way to address them.  This will make it less personal.

A formal Issues Solving Track helps solve the problem, not the symptoms.

Take them in order of priority.

There are 3 types of issues:

True Problems,

Information that need to be communicated and agreed to by the team,

Opportunity that needs feedback or green light.

In each weekly meeting, you have a formal time to address the issues.

  1. Identify:  State the problem then find the root.   Plan on getting a little bit uncomfortable.  The cause of most real issues are people.
  2. Discuss: Everyone’s opportunity to say what they want to say about the issue.  Everyone should only say their issue once though.  If something is becoming redundant, you need to do step 3.   Don’t let it get off on tangents.
  3. Solve:   conclusion or solution.   Action item for someone to do.  You can’t really solve problems without your VTO complete and your vision communicated and leadership on the same page. Make every decision as if you are winning the super bowl.

There are 3 types of resolutions from an issues solving track.

  1. Issue is resolved and require someone to take action
  2. When the purpose is just to bring awareness  and the conclusion is everyone is aware of the issue
  3. The issue needs more research and that is assigned to someone.

The 10 Commandments of Solving Issues

Thou  shalt not rule by consensus: make everyone heard, but not necessarily ‘happy’.  Decisions must be made.
1  Thou shalt not be a weeny
2  Thou shalt be decisive.
3  Thou shalt not rely on 2nd hand information:  All parties must be present
4  Thou shalt fight for the greater good
5  Thou shalt not try to solve them all:  Rank issues in terms of importance.
6  Thou shalt live with it, end it, or change it:   There are no others.
7  Thou shalt choose short term pain and suffering
8  Thou shalt enter the danger:  do the hard thing
9  Thou shalt take a shot

IDS:  Identify, Discuss, Solve

There are times when personal issues need to be resolved.  So need to schedule a Personal Issues Solving Session.   The Personal Issues Solving Session is there to clear the air and resolve differences.   You will need an uninterested 3rd party intermediary

Have each person bring and prepare to share what they think the other person’s 3 greatest strengths and weaknesses are.  List all of the issues and solve them.  List action items from the solutions.   Then meet 30 days later to make sure the action items have been accomplished.  If the issues are serious and can’t be resolved, one has to go.     Hopefully to a different team within the organization.