What If Your Issues List Isn’t Working?

Some time ago, a client of mine had a ridiculously long Issues List that was getting out of control. They never seemed to be making progress on resolving their issues – in fact, their issues seemed to be exploding!

EOS® promises to help you solve your company’s issues for good. Over time, you should be seeing fewer issues and gaining new ground as an organization. But what if your Issues List isn’t working? It seems like you’re rehashing the same issues over and over again, and frankly the Issues List seems to grow rather than shrink.

You’ve got Issues List Fatigue.

issues-list.jpgIssues List fatigue is a symptom that something is off in your IDS process or the way you’re setting rocks. There’s likely a disconnect between team members, or there’s a gap that isn’t being covered in the process. The good news is that it usually needs a simple fix once you’ve identified the problem. It might take some hard work, new habits, and dedication from your leadership team, but the remedy itself is almost always simple.

Here are some common causes of Issues List fatigue, and practical steps you can take to eliminate it for good.

Incomplete To-Dos

Often, an issue will stay on the Issues List because the To-Do that’s assigned to the issue doesn’t get done. If your To-Dos don’t get done, your issues will stick around indefinitely – and they could even get worse!

Every To-Do should be assigned to a specific person on your team. Track every To-Do and keep the item’s owner accountable for it in your next weekly meeting. If it isn’t completed, ask the owner what they need to get it done in the next seven days. As a rule of thumb, 90% of your weekly To-Dos should be done every single week. If you’re noticing a pattern of someone habitually not completing their To-Dos, you may have a Right Seat/Right Person issue.

Lack of Clarity

Sometimes it’s not entirely clear what the issue really is, even after you IDS it. You thought your whole team understood the issue, but since your last meeting it became clear that there was some miscommunication in the meeting, the To-Do wasn’t clear, or a new facet of the issue came to light.

In either case, you need to go back and do some more IDSing until everyone is on the same page and completely clear about what the issue really is, and what the solution is. If you find this happening, it’s because you’re not identifying the issue and root cause correctly. Focus in on the “I” in IDS during your weekly meetings.

Make sure your To-Dos are crystal clear by making them SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

If To-Dos aren’t defined in a way that clarifies exactly what needs to be done in the next week, they won’t get done in the next week. Take the time to clearly define what needs to be done, and wording it to be SMART, so that everyone is on the same page.

Taking on Too Much

Some of my clients have tried to solve issues by creating series of To-Dos that really ought to be rocks. If the solution is too big to resolve in a week, it’s a sign that you haven’t predicted your use of time well, and you need to set better 90-day rocks.

Not every issue should be tackled with a To-Do. But if you compartmentalize your issues, you can correctly identify the rocks on your Issues List. You’ll be able to determine if an issue can be solved through setting a one-year goal, a 90-day rock, or a weekly To-Do. And when you identify an issue that needs a rock, be sure your team has the capacity to take on that rock. You shouldn’t have more than 3 – 7 rocks at any given time.

You should also give your team permission to pass issues on to other departments or levels of your company, when it’s more appropriate for another team to solve them. Your leadership team is not responsible for solving every company issue!

End Your Issues List Fatigue for Good!

If your team has been experiencing Issues List fatigue, take some time at your next weekly Level 10 Meeting™ to examine the reason for it. Add it to the Issues List, IDS it, and determine if one or more of these causes is in play.

Next Steps

Bulk order What the Heck is EOS?

 This post originally appeared on the GPS For Small Business Blog on July 12, 2017.

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