Rock, To-Do, or Issue?

68!  After five quiet minutes, the new team had amassed a list of 68 issues.  They were happy to get them out of their head and out in the open, but a list this huge seemed daunting.  Where should they begin? 

This question comes up in many Focus Day™ sessions with new EOS® clients, and it can also arise if you have a Visionary who comes up with more ideas/issues that the team can address.  As Don Tinney, one of the godfathers of EOS®, is fond of saying, it’s all about “compartmentalizing™.”

It’s now approaching the end of the fiscal year for many clients, so we’re spending time in their Annual Sessions working on their V/TO™ (Vision/Traction Organizer™).  As we look at the 1-Year Plan, it’s important to get a crystal-clear idea of what must get accomplished within the next 12 months.  This will give the entire company a set of goals to get behind, and it will help shape our rocks for the upcoming quarters.  As we finish setting the most important 1-year goals for the company, remove any issues from your Issues List if the 1-year goals will “solve” them.  Your issues list should now be a little shorter.

As we progress through the V/TO™, the team decides the most important priorities for the next 90 days.  These will be our Rocks.  Our Rocks should get us closer to our 1-Year Plan.  As we finish assigning Rocks and making them S.M.A.R.T., remove any issues from the Issues List if our Rocks will “solve” them.  Your issues list should now be even shorter.

Now, let’s take a closer look at our Issues List. (Bonus tip, as your entire company rolls out EOS®, and every team is having L10 meetings and quarterly Rocks, push tactical issues to the lowest level possible.  In other words, push tactical Rocks to Ops, Sales, or Finance when possible and let these teams solve them.  Save the highest-level Issues and Rocks for the senior leadership team).  Everything on the list should be important, but some issues may be more urgent than others.  If the team agrees that an issue won’t be addressed within the next 90 days, move this issue to the “Issues List” section of the V/TO™ (I like to call this our Issues List Parking Lot).  Don’t worry, we’ll look at the V/TO™ often, at least every 90 days, so no issue will be forgotten.  Your issues list should now be a little shorter.

As you take a look at your active, weekly issues list, every single issue should be current and legitimate.  Make sure this Issues List is always up-to-date.  Don’t color-code issues to show that you’ve begun discussing them, but never finished.  Don’t solve the easy issues, but skip the more difficult issues (which could be more important).  As you begin IDSing (Identifying, Discussing, and Solving) your issues, work on one at a time until the issue is solved.  If you only get to a single issue, at least you’ve solved the most important issue for that week.  Most issues can be solved within a week, so these should be solved with a to-do (our to-dos are seven-day action items).  If the issue is going to take more than one week to solve, you can break the issue into smaller issues, and list each of them on the Issues List.  Then take them one at a time, and solve them with weekly to-dos.  You can also save these issues to solve as Rocks (Rocks are our action items which take more than seven days to complete). 

As we compartmentalize, we will move issues to the appropriate list, and keep our weekly issues list clean and concise.