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Eliminating “End Runs” with “The Question”


If you have ever watched a football game, I expect you are familiar with the end run—a football play in which the ball carrier attempts to run around one end of the defensive line.

Another definition of an end run is “an evasive maneuver,” and that is where the connection to the term lies with EOS®.

Just like in football, there is an offensive tactic EOS Implementers™ recommend leaders and managers use to eliminate end runs in their organization. More on the offensive tactic in a moment.

Organizational end runs occur in one of two ways. First, a team member goes around the Integrator generally to complain and occasionally to request assistance. The second way in which end runs take place is when the Visionary goes around the Integrator and gives direction to team members in one or more departments.

This often occurs prior to an organization having a well-defined company structure in place. Team members typically seek out the person with whom they are most familiar, or who they know best. And end runs are often disguised as “open door” policies.

Once an organization defines their company structure via the Accountability Chart, it is critical to develop a new behavior that will stop end runs. Allowing end runs to continue damages relationships, creates confusion, and undermines the role of the Integrator.

What is that new behavior? I’m glad you asked—we call it “The Question.” Here’s how it works. Let’s say Elmer goes to the Visionary to complain about something. The Visionary should listen carefully, and then respond, saying, “I hear you. I have one question. Are you going to tell him or am I? Because one of us has to tell him.”

Asking this question doesn’t change the need for team members to brainstorm or for leaders and managers to listen. Communication in an organization is critical to organizational health. Using “The Question” simply serves the organization and team members best when we allow the Integrator to be effective.

How have you been dealing with end runs in your organization? Maybe you didn’t realize it was happening and how counterproductive it can be. If you would like to talk through your Accountability Chart, your challenge with end runs, or the best way to pose “The Question,” lets chat. Simply fill out the contact form below to set up a 15-minute phone consultation with me. I would be happy to answer your questions and help set you up for success.



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