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Why You Need to Solve Business Issues Slowly

Written by Mike Paton on February 6, 2017


turtle crossing  the sand | solve business issues slowly - like a turtle!One night this holiday season, my wife and I were wrapping gifts for our family. When a large pile of brightly colored packages sat beside each of us, we stood back to admire our handiwork. Kate’s packages were beautiful – crisply wrapped, carefully secured with beautiful ribbons that matched the wrapping paper, each package festooned with tidy little bows. My packages were technically covered (mostly) with wrapping paper and tape. But they didn’t really look…finished.

In my defense, Kate spent a few holiday seasons wrapping gifts at Dayton’s in downtown Minneapolis. She’s a trained professional, while I am most certainly not. And it showed.

If you’re not yet a “trained professional” on your EOS® journey, you may be struggling with the quality of your Level 10 Meetings™, and more specifically with IDS – the Issues Solving Track. These are simple tools and disciplines, to be sure, but mastering them is not easy.

After nine years helping teams resolve issues, I’ve discovered something that brilliantly wrapped gifts and high-quality IDSing have in common – the surprising power of the “tidy little bow.”

The Power of Solving Business Issues Slowly

When a leadership team begins implementing EOS, their Issues List can become quite long, and a little scary. At the same time, they’re still learning how to run an efficient Level 10 Meeting, and how to prioritize, then Identify, Discuss and Solve (IDS) their issues. It can be quite frustrating.

Faced with that frustration, a lot of leaders and teams simply want to go faster – to get through the whole list (just as I wanted to get through my pile of gifts). But that can mean they don’t take the proper time to identify the real root cause of the issue, thoroughly discuss it, and – perhaps most importantly – agree on and commit fully to a plan of attack that will make the issue go away forever.

When you’re in a hurry to cross an issue off the list and move on to the next one, you may find that you’re not clear and aligned on “the solve.” That can lead to all sorts of bad outcomes – friction between teammates who drew different conclusions about what was decided, the need to solve the same issue multiple times…the list goes on and on.

That’s the “tidy little bow.” When facilitating IDS in a session, I’ve learned to slow things down when the team is ready to “S” (solve) the issue. It’s a two-step process, requiring verbal agreement from everyone that:

  • They’re crystal clear on and agree with the decision that was just made (e.g., “We need to hire an engineer”).
  • They’re crystal clear on and agree with the action that will be taken, and by whom (e.g., “Sally’s To Do is sharing a draft job description and proposed comp with us at next week’s Level 10”).

Very simply, don’t move forward until every member of the team has agreed. The first few times you try this, it can feel as though you’re insulting everyone’s intelligence or accusing them of not paying attention. But I’ve rarely seen anyone take offense, and it really makes a positive difference.

So, the next time you’re solving an issue, approach it the way my wife wraps a package. Take the time to finish it off with a “tidy little bow.” I’m confident you’ll notice and appreciate the difference. 

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