I know you’ve been there. I have too. You’re in a meeting, it takes too long, the team talks about a problem, they bitch for a while and get all riled up, and then say “well, I guess we’ll tackle that later…” Are you kidding me? Did I just waste 45 minutes of my time? All complaining and no action make meetings a dull thing.


I found the solution to this problem in the book “Traction” by Gino Wickman, and It comes in 3 steps that create the acronym IDS:

  • Identify the real issue
  • Discuss the problem
  • Solve the issue

Let’s take a quick look at what we mean by each.


Identify: Sometimes the issues we see are not the real issues at all. You MUST get to the root of the issue before you can solve it. For example, if we are upset that an employee is late all the time, we need to understand why he’s late. Maybe the expectations have never been set for the employee. Has this ever been addressed in the employee handbook? Have there been a rash of accidents on his route in? What ever it is, we need to understand the cause before we can discuss the solution.

Discuss: Once you identify the real issue, then let’s discuss what to do about it. But don’t forget a very important rule: say what you need to say once and be done with it. Don’t beat a dead horse. Everyone in the meeting has two ears. They heard you. This is what makes most meetings long and unbearable. Don’t do it.

Solve: Now that we know the issue, and we’ve discussed how to address it, do something crazy – actually come up with a solution! Most meetings become ineffective because the team leaves an issue on the table so it can grow instead of finalizing a solution. But it’s crazy, it usually takes less than 5 minutes to agree on a solution in these situations! Finally, in order to know the issue is solved, you need to create an action item that includes a deadline for someone in the meeting to accomplish. Solutions without action items rarely get implemented.


So how does this work in practice? Let’s go back to the example of the late employee. We determine that the employee is late because there is no consequence which is a result of poor communication and no defined attendance policy. We determine that we need an updated employee handbook. This is followed up by the HR person updating the employee handbook and discussing the policy with the entire staff by the end of the month.


Now you know the secret of great meetings. I will tell you that if you actually implement these rules in your meetings, you will save time, have excellent decision making, and grow your company. If that’s not enough I’ll tell you it gets better… you don’t have to sit through any more worthless meetings!