We just met a Leadership Team that works hard to move their business forward as fast as possible. So when a new issue emerges, one of them takes the lead to tackle it right away, even though the issue may need input from other members of the team. The first thing the lead person does is try to get the right people in the room to discuss and solve it.
The members of this team are very busy, so every issue is an interruption. And like all of us, they have lots of interruptions. The trouble is that each issue is usually a higher priority for the person leading the effort than it is for the rest of the team. So issues compete for attention, which lets politics take hold. They spend lots of time chasing each other to set up meetings to solve each individual issue. And in the absence of a specific issue-solving process, when those meetings finally occur, they usually aren’t very productive.
The result is that it often takes this team weeks or months to solve issues which seem like they should be solved in minutes or days.
If this sounds even a little familiar, don’t worry. Few companies have a specific process for handling issues. Most teams and most people instinctively address them roughly the way this company does. But research shows that letting these kinds of issues interrupt other work reduces productivity by as much as 40%.
To get that productivity back, try this instead:
When issues arise, DO NOT discuss them or try to solve them right away. Simply put them on a list of issues to be solved at your next weekly meeting. That weekly meeting should be on the same day, at the same time, with the same attendance and structure every week. Attendance, whether in person or by phone, must be mandatory. That way, you’ll be guaranteed one time every week when everyone you need in order to solve team issues will be together.
Give yourselves an hour of pure issue-solving time, and don’t run over. Always start by prioritizing your top three issues. Work issue #1 first, then #2 and #3. When you solve those three, prioritize and work the next three. Solve as many issues as you can in an hour. This works particularly well if you use a fast, tried and true issue resolution methodology like the one we teach as part of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®). When the hour is up, get back to work. Some weeks, you won’t solve every issue. Don’t worry. The ones you didn’t get to weren’t your highest priorities. Trust that they will keep for another week.
Give this a try. It may feel strange at first, but you’ll quickly find that you and your team are spending much less time in meetings and much less time chasing each other to set those meetings up. Your environment will be less political. And seeing all of your issues in one place will help you both to prioritize them and to solve them much faster.
Slow down. We promise you’ll go faster.