Real Problem Solving: How to Truly Tackle Your Company’s Dilemmas

Real Problem Solving: How to Truly Tackle Your Company’s Dilemmas on

How’s your track record at addressing and resolving issues?

It’s the elephant in the room. You see the problem, but everybody wants to avoid a discussion. Why is that – especially when it’s an obstacle that can kill organizational performance and profit? We live in an age where a company can lose a significant amount of its value because of a news report. Other, subtler issues linger long-term, limiting growth and success. When there’s a problem, it often has to be dealt with. Right now.

Provident advises a straightforward approach that results in real problem solving. It comes from the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). This methodology banishes elephant-in-the-room obstacles with three steps. Identify the root cause, discuss it quickly, and solve it permanently.

Why do some organizations fail at problem-solving?

EOS originator Gino Wickman outlines that some leadership teams are highly efficient in problem-solving, while others are, as he put it, “terrible and lucky to get through 25% of them.”

To help, Wickman created a process known as the Issues Solving Track. EOS refers to problems as “issues.” The process contains three steps that create the acronym IDS:

1. Identify

Connie Chwan, a certified EOS Implementer and owner of PureDirection, LLC, observes that often, issues are uncomfortable, not well-defined, and unpleasant to deal with. Not solving the problem you want to avoid, she explains, becomes your second problem.

That’s why it’s important to identify the root cause of the issue. This is because the problem is really just the symptom. It’s for this reason that Chwan and Wickman advise you to not move forward until you clearly identify the real issue.

2. Discuss

It’s time for the team to share thoughts, ideas, concerns, and solutions for the issue. This must happen in an open and honest environment. Wickman doesn’t beat around the bush. In his Issues Solving Track, he advises teams to “get it all out on the table but say it only once. If you say it more than once, you are politicking.”

3. Solve

The hardest part comes last and the solution should always be simple. It isn’t as important what you decide but that you decide. If you don’t hear what Wickman describes as “the sweet sound of agreement,” it’s time to go back to the discussion phase. Action steps for the solution belong to an owner on the team, who will report on completion in the next meeting.

Removing IDS obstacles

Wickman’s personal experience shows that a healthy team will experience a high rate – eight out 10 times – of agreement to a solution. What does he mean by healthy? EOS is a holistic management system. Vision and traction get a team on the same page and provide the discipline to become more accountable. This makes the team healthy, meaning they’re cohesive and functional.

The repeated inability to agree on a solution may be an indication that your team should return to the basic tenets of EOS and discover what’s preventing them from achieving traction.

This dysfunction is often a symptom that a team is experiencing a lack of what author Patrick Lencioni calls organizational health. Successful leadership teams must be comfortable with open and honest exchanges at all points along the IDS process.

Mark Capaldiani, Founder and CEO of Opportunity into Revenue, observes that healthy leadership teams are able to focus on the greater good of the company, rather than narrow interests. Lacking that capacity, Capaldiani warns that the same issues will keep resurfacing. This can be a barometer of organizational health and the difference between a thriving versus a struggling culture.

Accelerating IDS

IDS can eat up a lot of time in meetings, which is why EOS suggests a way to make the process quicker. It’s applied during the first step of identification. It boils down to Who, Who, One Sentence.

  • Who: This refers to the person bringing up the issue.
  • Who: This refers to the team leader who will own the issue’s resolution.
  • One Sentence: The person bringing up the issue must describe it in a single, “rip off the band-aid” statement.

This process can reduce hours of wasted time and reclaim up to a week of productivity each year. Problem-solving isn’t the only organizational challenge that EOS can help your organization take to new levels. Learn how we can help you clarify, simplify, and achieve your vision.