Do you have issues?


By Phil Harwood

In both our personal and professional lives, we are constantly dealing with issues. But that’s not always a bad thing. An issue is just something that needs to be addressed. An issue could simply be a decision that needs to be made. Or it could be a wonderful opportunity that needs to be discussed as a team. Of course, it could also be some problem or challenge that needs to be overcome. 

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In a professional context, the question becomes, “which issues require the attention of my team?” The most productive teams meet on a regular basis to address the issues of the day. But which issues are worthy of my team’s attention and which are not? This is an important question because we don’t want to waste our team’s precious time.

In Susan Scott's best-selling book, Fierce Conversations, she outlines a process to ensure that topics selected to be discussed at team meetings are well-prepared in advance so that the team's precious time is more efficiently used.

The goals of the approach are several: to be able to hit the ground running when discussing an issue; to have clarity about the issue before the discussion begins; to prevent an incoherent or incomplete explanation of the issue on the table.
Here’s the process:
Complete the form template and send to your team leader (or the entire team)
Decide if the issue is sufficiently prepared for a group discussion (team leader typically makes this decision but could be the leadership team as a whole)
Distribute to each member of the team the completed form after the issue has been approved to be brought forward
Communicate an expectation that each member of the team is to come prepared to share their perspectives on the issue after reviewing the material distributed
At the meeting, review the template (may wish to hand out printed copies) briefly (5 mins) and ask for clarifying questions (10 mins)
Then move the discussion to ideas and suggestions, hearing from each member of the group
Be sure to push deeper to get everyone’s perspectives on the table (no hiding)
Avoid defensive responses to novel ideas and suggestions (be curious and ask more questions)
To move toward a decision, each member of the group writes out their decision on paper
Each person then shares with the group what they wrote down (no discussion)
Papers are signed and handed to the decision-maker for this issue
Thank everyone for their input
Either at this point or later, the decision-maker makes a final decision, armed with the input from the group

If you’re interested in a copy of the form template, just shoot me an email at 

Also, if you’re interested in networking with business owners and senior leaders, we are holding our annual Inner Circle event this April. Complete information is available at We’d love to have you join us. 

Now go forth. 

Tags: Goals , Teams , Team Meetings ,