One of our clients is restructuring their distribution channels in response to huge changes in their industry. It’s a critical step on the path toward achieving their growth plans. Step 1 is creating a new strategy and a transition plan. The head of marketing took these two big deliverables on as goals for the current quarter.
He started the way most of us would – by gathering lots of information and doing some hard thinking. Then he pulled his thoughts and ideas together in a 28-page presentation and asked the leadership team for a 90 minute meeting to review it.
But this wasn’t your typical slow slog through the slides with frequent stops for long discussions. Instead this leadership team made extraordinary progress in remarkably little time.
Their process was simple. The marketing leader went through the presentation with zero discussion. The other team members listened carefully and called out issues as they saw them. But instead of stopping to discuss each issue as it emerged, they simply put the issue on a list and kept going. So instead of running over or getting through only a few pages (a sinkhole – lots of discussion, no results except the need for more meetings), they got through the entire presentation in the allotted time and identified 30 issues that needed to be solved in order to move forward.
They gave themselves a few days to let the presentation sink in and to make sure they hadn’t missed any issues (they hadn’t). Then they reconvened for two hours of pure issue-solving. Again, they started on time and committed to ending on time. They put all 30 issues on a whiteboard and prioritized them so that they could be sure they were working on the most important issues first.
Finally, they tackled each issue using the highly effective EOS® process we call IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve). The emphasis here is on digging down to the root-cause of each issue, and only then proposing and agreeing to actions that will make the issue go away permanently. “Discussion” comes mostly from trying to solve a problem when you aren’t clear what the problem is. When you get down to root causes, discussion becomes unnecessary. Effective solutions become much easier to find, and you save tons of time.
Here’s what the team achieved:
1. They solved all 30 issues in less than two hours.
2. Including both meetings, they needed just 3.5 hours of team time to resolve one of their biggest challenges.
3. In most companies, a conversation like this would stretch out over months. This team accomplished all of this work in the course of a single week.
4. Again including the time they spent in both meetings, they identified and solved issues at the rate of 1 issue every 7 minutes.
That’s what Traction looks like.
Are you making this kind of progress in your company? If you're not and you'd like to, we'd be happy to help you make it happen.