Got a problem? I-D-S it…!

Every business has issues.   There are issues when business is good and there are issues when business is bad.   The reality is all businesses have issues (even yours).   It’s the ability to effectively solve those issues that often separates one business from another.  But how does one effectively and efficiently solve issues?

There has to be an intentional process to address problems when they arise.  Sweeping them under the rug is not a solution.   Nearly every well-known author of business books has offered their process for solving problems.   Jim Collins, Michael Gerber, Patrick Lencioni, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, and Gino Wickman are only a sampling of notable authors that have offered some method or process to tackle problems.  That observation alone is a good indicator there are a lot of companies with problems!  And how important it is to be able to solve them.

Though there is a lot of overlap in approaches to solving problems, one that is powerful, yet easy to remember and implement is Wickman’s simple 3 step model he coined “The Issues Solving Track”.   What makes it so effective is that it’s about as logical as you can get.  And, everyone in your company will get it and be able to use it in no time.

The Issues Solving Track

  • Identify
  • Discuss
  • Solve

“IDS” is all you need to remember.  The same three steps Identify-Discuss-Solve  work on the small issue that take 2 minutes to talk through or big challenges that may take several hours or more.  If you’re faced with multiple issues, the first step is prioritizing the issues so your team is tackling the most important issues first.   Often what happens by doing this is some of the smaller issues get resolved in the process, because they were a symptom of the bigger issues you solved first.

How to use The Issues Solving Track:

Step 1 Identify:   Get to the real issue before you start trying to solve it.   The 5 whys approach might help.   The real issue is usually not what is on the surface.   This step may get a few people in the room uncomfortable so you might want to preface that in advance.   There will often be elephants in the room, but that doesn’t mean you gang up on them.    Set the stage for an open honest conversation, let your team know the meeting is not about judging it’s about making decisions that are for the greater good of the business.

Step 2 Discuss:  This is usually where you’ll spend the bulk of your time.  You just need to make sure the discussion is staying on topic about the issue you’re trying to solve.   This is when you give everyone their chance to provide their input about the issue.   Every idea is appreciated and no one should feel insecure about sharing their thoughts (make that clear).  Sometimes this step may only take a few seconds, because the direction is so clear after completing Step 1.    Again as an overreaching theme the discussion should be focused on solutions that are for the greater good of the company, not personal agendas.

Step 3 Solve:   This is the solution, the action item, the change that is going to be implemented.   Everyone has agreed to get behind it 100%, even those who wanted to do something different.   This is the one voice solution.   Make sure that one person is identified to be the owner of the solution and the group should agree on the timeline it should be considered solved.   Sometimes the solution may only be an initial step and more follow-up is required.  That is OK,  just be clear on timelines so there is accountability in the solution process.

Another great use for this tool solving personal issues between employees.   However it is highly recommended to have a 3rd party facilitate the meeting.   There is always the possibility something might not go as planned and issues get worse not better.    The steps for this are the same as above except the stage for the Identify step is set up with a unique request….

  • Identify:
    1. Each person lists what they believe are the other person’s 3 great strengths and weaknesses.
  • Discuss:
    1. Talk through all the issues (3rd party moderates as needed).
  • Solve:
    1. Agree on solutions and list action items for each.
  • Schedule a 30 day follow up meeting to see that action items have been (are being) accomplished.

What do you think?   Does your business have a good system for addressing problems when they arise?   Are you more likely to tackle them head-on or put off dealing with them as long as you can?  Have you ever tried a version of the I-D-S with your team?   What about with employees who were butting heads?  Our challenge would be the next time a problem comes up say “Let’s IDS this!”   We think you’ll be glad you did.

As always we value your comments in the space below.    

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach