Think of any business meeting you have ever been in. An issue comes up, and what follows is generally a period of aimless rambling, several trips down rabbit holes, and perhaps one or two side discussions on tangential issues. After 20 minutes, the group collectively shrugs their shoulders and moves on to another topic without making any decisions or assigning any follow up items.
This is why most people rate the quality of the meetings that they are forced to attend every day as a four out of 10. I always tell my clients that experiences like the above simply do not happen in a well-run L10 meeting. We avoid discussions that go nowhere and accomplish nothing! In the rare event that it does happen, I take it personally that I just wasted everyone’s time for no benefit.
The “10” in L10™
In EOS™, we strive to make every meeting a 10, and that is why we call our Leadership Team meeting a Level 10 meeting™. Part of what makes an L10™ meeting so effective is the L10 agenda. The team first goes through the reporting section of the agenda, getting everyone updated on where the business is at.
Then it is time to solve Issues! The effective solving of Issues is the other thing that makes an L10 meeting so effective. We don’t just discuss things; we solve things – once and for all, so that we never need to revisit them.
How Do We Decide Which Issues to Tackle?
If you have built your dynamic Issues List, you probably have more Issues than you can resolve in one L10 meeting. That is OK. We will probably never solve all of our Issues, but we will always solve the most important Issues first.
The team first decides which are the top three Issues – the Issues that would do the most to move the company forward. Don’t spend a lot of time on this. Every minute you spend voting or discussing just takes away from your solving time. Just shout out your selection. Do not worry about being selfish. If it is an Issue you really want to discuss, then call it out!
We pick three Issues to start, and we start with the first one. We take as much time as necessary to get through that Issue. When we are done, we go on to number two, and if we still have time, we go on to number three. If we get through that one, then we pick three more Issues.
How Do We Solve Issues?
To solve Issues, EOS uses a process called IDS™: Identify – Discuss – Solve™.
Identify: What is the Issue?
Whoever raised the Issue is asked to briefly explain what the Issue is. No five-minute background recitations allowed -- just one sentence to explain what we need to solve.
Next, the team is asked if the Issue is clear and whether this is really the Issue. Perhaps this is a symptom and not the cause. Take all the time necessary to clarify the Issue so that you do not waste time solving the wrong issue. Only when there is agreement on the real Issue is it time to move to the next stage.
The floor is now open for the team members to contribute what they can to the understanding of the Issue. I usually start the Discuss stage by asking a background question, like “When did this problem start?” or “How has this problem been attacked in the past?” That gets the discussion started with facts and gives everyone a common history to work from.
Then let the group discuss and debate. It is important to avoid tangents. Do not be afraid to say, “That sounds like a different Issue. Let’s put that on the Issues list and stick to this Issue.” Keep people focused on the Issue at hand.
Do not let anyone propose a solution yet. That comes when the discussion has played itself out and we are ready to move on to the next stage.
It is now time for one brave team member to propose a solution. When the team has agreed upon a solution, the person who brought up this Issue is asked if this solve works for them. If not, we need to go back to the Discuss stage and try again. If so, we are ready to move on to the next Issue on the list, but not until we assign some action items to execute the team’s decision.
It is through the careful and deliberate use of the IDS process that EOS companies solve Issues and avoid those pointless, time-wasting discussions that keep their team meetings from being a 10!
If you need help solving Issues, reach out to me. I have been a fractional Integrator for five years and have run hundreds of L10s for my clients in a variety of industries. I have helped them reach their goals, starting with holding more effective L10 meetings. I can be your L10 Ninja! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-247-1993 or my LinkedIn page.
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