We all have issues. A shocking confession, I know! By definition, an issue is an important topic for debate or discussion. Consequently, issues aren’t just problems to be solved, threats to be thwarted, or obstacles to overcome, but they include opportunities to be grasped and challenges to be embraced.
One of the major differences between weak, good, and great businesses — and especially their senior leadership teams — is their ability to problem-solve. And that includes being really good at deciding what problems they aren’t going to worry about solving.
Like effective marketing strategies — where being in agreement on who our target market is not is just as important as being in agreement on who it is — agreeing on what we are not going to worry about right now has a host of benefits.
Here are six reasons to keep a long-term issues (“LTI”) list:
- A LTI list provides additional context with regard to what our priorities are. Knowing what isn’t important makes clearer what is.
- It prevents us from sweeping problems under the rug. Issues that are not acknowledged eat away at the fabric of trust that binds any organization. Keeping the issues you can’t solve now in a “public” list, as in our Vision / Traction Organizer, assures us that issues we feel are important are not being ignored.
- It helps us let go of what we can’t do now. We all have issues that don’t need to be solved during the next 90 days. Having a formal process for acknowledging them makes it easier for us to let go of those we might otherwise want to address immediately, but which need to take a back seat so we can focus on more urgent ones.
- It saves time and energy. Many LTIs magically disappear over time, so keeping them on a list saves us lots of effort that would otherwise be invested in trying to solve issues that would either simply vaporize or come out in the wash with other issues.
- It simplifies things. Many long-term issues initially seem complicated – they’re ambiguous, amorphous, political, emotional, etc. – but they become simpler over time. Especially when they disappear as in reason #4.
- LTIs provide additional context for our longer-term strategies. They ensure that the entire organization has a sense for what potentially lies on the horizon (see my well-being post on the power of having something to look forward to).
Do you and your team have a place for documenting your long-term issues?
Until next time, may you build with passion and confidence.