Before you read this, I don’t provide the answer, I am just wondering if you are aware of this even being an issue?
Do you have an issue that has been kicked around in meetings at whatever level: Within a team, across teams, at management meetings. Conversations that usually start with…
- “We’ve discussed this before…”
- “Did we ever find a resolution for…”
- “Remember the thing with…”
If it does, is it a problem? In my experience, it is a massive problem. These issues have no clear solutions, information is lacking, politics may be involved. These sorts of discussions, if unmanaged, can waste hours upon hours. And because they are not resolved, they come back again – with the same old ground covered.
There’s a lengthy write up here that discusses how one organisation tackled their Decision Making Velocity. It’s not a bad read and includes some good Bezos’ quotes. My only problem with it is that it’s not something you can implement today.
Breaking Infinite Loops
If you encounter any of these types of discussions mentioned above, it can feel like you are stuck in an infinite loop. Each successive discussion does not seem to progress the issue. Not everyone may agree that there is an issue, some wishing that it would just go away. However, the fact that it regularly comes up indicates that this issue needs addressing.
But how to handle these issues? I find it helps to have the appropriate language and labelling for these issues. Just calling them out for what they are can help resolve some of the tension around them.
Recognising these infinite loops exist, and labelling them as such when identified can help you to move such items onto a different track – Separate from the usual decision making process that *usually* gets things done.
Ok, we’ve labelled it, what now?
We need to break the loop. How?
- Give one person/team the responsibility for resolving it – Make sure they have the authority to tackle it as well.
- Get immediate agreement that this issue will be parked for a minimum period of whatever time. Who knows, maybe the answer will reveal itself in the meantime.
That’s it. Do or Don’t – But Please, stop talking about it.