A 15 Minute Solution to Your Complex Problem

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Originally posted August 9, 2011

Do you have a complex problem that needs to be solved quickly? Consider using “Reason Meetings.”

I first learned about Reason Meetings in my years as an executive pastor in a large church, and I quickly became a fan of their effectiveness.

Just as the name suggests, a Reason Meeting is held because there is a particular reason; there’s a certain problem that needs to be addressed and needs to be addressed quickly.

It’s comprised of people from different parts of your organization, from different levels within departments. A Reason Meeting can feature a combination of department heads, middle managers, clerical staff and custodians.

They come together, usually on short notice, to brainstorm about a particular issue or problem. It’s a quick, energetic, results-oriented dialogue with a group of people who might never gather again in the same way.

This week a serious challenge landed on my desk, and I realized that we had about 24 hours to come up with a solution. After 30 minutes racking my brain without success, I tried a different approach. I took out a sheet of paper and wrote down the names of the people in our organization who were the most affected by the issue, or who would likely have the greatest interest in seeing it resolved.

I walked through our building, stopped at each of their offices, and said, “Hey something’s come up that I could really use your help with. Can you give me 15 minutes right now?”

We quickly assembled, I laid out the issue, and then watched them perform. The energy was high, the conversation solution-focused, and the pace was brisk. Within 10 minutes there were half a dozen tremendous options on the table.

To maximize their effectiveness bear in mind that Reason Meetings:

  • Work best in “short bursts”; 15 minutes is optimal.
  • Should be used sparingly.
  • Should be used only for brainstorming; not assigning blame or follow-up tasks.

If you’re facing a complex challenge give a Reason Meeting a try. You may find the solution to your challenge is just 15 minutes away.

Do you have other ways of tackling complex issues on a tight timeline?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

One comment

  1. Great insight, Scott! I really appreciate the wisdom of involving the people most affected by or interested in the issue. Sowing seeds of involvement, will help bear a harvest of execution. No involvement, no commitment.

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