I’m borrowing liberally from critic and cultural commentator Clive James because he says many things better than I can. For example: “Facing reality ought to be an aim in life. It hardly ever is, and the pursuit of happiness can practically be defined as the avoidance of any such thing. But an aim in life it certainly ought to be. Just as long as somebody else does it.”
I enjoy crisis management and communication, most people don’t and so I’m kept busy! Issue management is simply the art of facing the reality of a problem, examining the options for resolving it and choosing the best one. A range of protocols, methods, tactics and procedures then follow but must be based on the realities (again) of the best option. The worst option and worst method is to ignore or downplay a problem – although sometimes this happens because someone misjudges or dislikes the reality of the situation in the first place.
Reality is; it just is. The facts are the facts, Jack. Once you begin from this premise it gets much easier to deal with the resulting problem. I’ve enjoyed restructuring dysfunctional teams; doorknocking communities; lobbying stakeholders and facing angry hordes to uncover and address the issue. Critically, in each case I first needed the facts – and in the very worst cases I was given the CEO’s perception, management’s fantasy or (my personal favourite) “the Minister’s preferred vision for the situation”. Reality was different and reality won.
If something in your team, business or life isn’t working, seems off beam or isn’t getting results you must first discover the reality to determine the fix. Or get someone else in to do it, like Clive says – so long as you then let them tell you the facts of life.