Conflict and handling issues are an epidemic in many companies. I’ve always said that our best growth comes from conflict. Let me clarify; it must be healthy conflict. What does that look like? In EOS™ (Entrepreneurial Operating System), the time to engage in healthy conflict is when we create an environment to identify and bring our Issues List to our meetings. Bringing them is easier when you create a culture in your organization to start looking for the issues getting in the way. Yes, you heard me correctly. Companies that lean in on their issues will get there faster. Issues are all the obstacles, barriers, roadblocks and people upsetting you — even opportunities getting in the way of your vision, or quite frankly, the day-to-day operations.

Now that you’ve identified the issues, you may be asking, “now what?” EOS has an issue solving track called, IDS. IDS stands for Identify, Discuss, and Solve. We first identify the issue in one sentence and don’t move to discuss it until everyone in the room understands the issue. Sometimes, we dig a little to get to the root issue. But once we’ve identified the root issue we can move to discuss. There are two rules on discussing, no tangents and no repeats. Anything else, we’re politicking. The person who brought the issue must be ready to hear it solve. Once they hear their solve, they raise their hand and say, “I am solved.” Then we move onto the next issue, and so forth.

This sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not always easy because not everyone is open and honest or is willing to go to the danger. Sometimes, solving issues together can be downright in your face, and feels like a fire drill. When things get heated up, people react in different ways.

Here’s a good way to frame this up and look at it from a healthy perspective. When things get heated, we must act from our best selves. This is especially true in a professional work environment. John Friel, Ph.D., said it best: “Just like a crucible in a laboratory, things get heated up. Crucibles can handle high levels of heat and that’s why they’re used in science. When people go about their lives, they’re on their own crucible and, quite frankly, responsible for it. There are two extremes outside of the crucible we want to avoid at all costs; the first is the perpetrator extreme. This is the bull in a china shop syndrome where we run over people and don’t listen and think we know all the answers. The second extreme is the victim extreme. This is where we blame others and shut down or don’t participate. A person can go from one extreme to another in one breath or sentence. It can happen very quickly. The goal is to stay in the crucible so as things get heated up, we act from or best selves without going to those extremes.”

I teach the crucible model to teams that run over each other or don’t have a two-way environment. I tell people that you’ll have more power when you’re in control of your emotions and you’ll build more vulnerability-based trust on your teams when you go into the danger without losing out on the extremes. You won’t be able to solve anything. Issues will continue to linger for days, weeks, months, quarters and years. We don’t want that.

Once a decision has been made, we move forward as a company. The time to get heated is in IDS and not outside or after the meeting. Everyone needs to get it out. We may not all agree, but all need to be heard without losing ourselves. The best companies do it this way. They face their issues by bringing them to each other. Sorry, suggestion boxes don’t work.

How are you addressing and solving your issues? Are you open and honest? Are you acting from your best self?

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