Words matter, especially the meaning we assign to them. Leaders of companies Running on EOS™ occasionally raise objections to the word “issue.” It comes with an undertone of emotional baggage. The definition of “issue” is simply “an important topic or problem for debate or discussion.” Issues don’t always mean problems. We should strive to remove the negative connotations and recognize it’s just an issue.
Detaching Emotions from Issues
Often, teams have trouble using The Issues Solving Track™ because emotions come into play. People can experience a range of emotions over an issue, including rage, embarrassment, defensiveness, terror, confusion, or annoyance.
Detaching emotions from an issue helps the team focus on Identifying its root cause, Discussing it, and Solving it (IDS®). Detaching emotions from issues starts by learning how to frame them objectively. To get past all the feelings that arise when someone raises an issue, the team should practice categorizing it into one of three buckets. If the issue remains unclear, ask clarifying questions until it becomes crystal clear to everyone.
- Solve: Block and tackle
- Ideate: Harness wisdom in the room
- Inform: Align output with the team
An issue in the solve bucket needs input. The person raising the issue needs different perspectives and the information others may have to address their challenge. Sometimes they just need help thinking about a problem differently, especially if they’re in the weeds and have lost perspective. They may have assigned importance to things that might not be that important.
How to Help: As a team member, serve as a peer coach. Ask probing questions to help the team fully understand the issue. One way to do this is to ask “why” seven times to help get to the root problem.
Issues in the ideate bucket need a more creative approach to solving them. The person raising the issue here may need help thinking bigger and considering alternatives. They may have to figure out how to use limited resources differently or pivot their approach. They need a brainstorming session to get crazy ideas on the table. Even if those ideas may not work, they might just spark an idea of something that will.
How to Help: Don’t limit your thinking in the early stages of the discussion. Say anything that comes to mind, no matter how absurd it sounds. You may turn over a solution your team members hadn’t thought of before.
The inform bucket holds issues that provide updates to the team. The person raising the issue may only want to report progress on Rocks or share topics that impact the team. Knowing they don’t want the team’s help solving or ideating their issue helps level-set the discussion.
How to Help: Team members should listen to the information and raise any other details that might not have been considered. Ask if this information will impact someone not in the meeting. How can the team use cascading messages to share information?
Ultimately, it helps to remember that no matter what issue someone raises, it’s just an issue. Healthy teams remove the emotional reactions to issues to deal with them. When addressing issues together, the team will see how much more manageable it is.
How strong is your company in the Issues Component®? Take the free Organizational Checkup™ to discover your business’s strengths and weaknesses.