Keep Your Team Focused With a Tangent Alert
It happens to all of us.
We call a meeting with a group of managers to discuss a situation or a problem.
As we begin the meeting, something we say triggers a remark from one of the managers about a different situation. That remark reminds another manager of another issue, which he or she then comments on. That comment poses a question about a different topic from yet another manager.
Before long, we are completely off track. The only thing we have successfully accomplished is getting off topic, wasting time, and not solving the issue at hand.
We’ve gone off on a tangent.
What is a Tangent?
According to Gino Wickman’s book, “Traction,” a tangent is diverging from an original purpose or course. It happens easily during meetings when we are not focused on the intended issue. It can cost a business hours of productivity.
Use a “Tangent Alert!”
The Entrepreneurial Operating System ™(EOS) has an effective phrase to quickly identify these tangents in a friendly but professional way. When a meeting attendee recognizes that the group has gotten off topic, he or she simply says, “Tangent Alert!” Everyone present recognizes that they have gotten off the subject.
EOS’s Issues Solving Track walks managers through a three-step process to solving an issue. Step one is identify the issue, step two is discuss, and step three is solve. A Tangent Alert is most often needed in step two of the Issues Solving Track, where it is common to inadvertently steer away from the issue in the midst of your discussion.
Here are some suggestions to help your meetings stay on task and avoid tangents:
- Thoroughly identify the issue first. This will save you time in the discussion stage if everyone knows and understands what the root cause of the issue actually is.
- Brainstorm solutions. If you’ve successfully identified the issue, the solution can be obvious.
- Everyone can voice an opinion. But only once. The solution should not be granted to the person who is most persistent.
- Keep the greater good in mind. Everyone needs to recognize what is best for the company as a whole, not what is best for his or her department.
It is easy for a discussion to deviate to a related topic. And sometimes the tangents are worth discussing, as they could be indicative of a larger issue that requires the team’s attention. If that is the case, put the topic on the Issues List, or schedule another meeting with the key managers involved. Make the goal of your meeting to solve the issue you called the meeting for.
Do you need help avoiding tangents and making your meetings more productive? If so, contact us. We can help.
EOS is a holistic management system with simple tools that help you do three things we call vision, traction, healthy. Vision from the standpoint of first getting your leaders 100% on the same page with where your organization is going. Traction from the standpoint of helping your leaders to become more disciplined and accountable, executing really well to achieve every part of your vision. Healthy meaning helping your leaders to become a healthy, functional, cohesive leadership team.