When challenges arise in business, as they usually do, business owners and other professionals often fall into a common trap that keeps companies from reaching their potential. It is called the “Now What? Trap”.  The Now What Trap happens when a business leader organizes a meeting to thoroughly discuss a problem the business is having.  However, for some reason, after the meeting is over not much else happens to effectively deal with the problem. There is a breakdown between the talking and the doing.

How do business leaders solve this sort of problem? How do teams move from discussion to action, from dialogue to doing?

There are two simple questions that, if answered, will help any individual or team, avoid the lots-of-talking-and little-doing syndrome. The first question is: “WHO is doing WHAT by WHEN and WHY?”  The second question is:  “HOW will follow up be handled?”  When a meeting reaches its conclusion the leader must begin the process of asking for help with the next steps and making some assignments. Who has authority in this area? What do we need them to do? When will we hear from them? Why exactly are they doing this and what results are we hoping to achieve?

Answering questions will help turn conversation into an action plan. The last question about follow up is critical to make sure that assignments get done and people have a chance to report on what they have accomplished. 85% of the reason why problems do not get solved is everyone forgets about what they were supposed to do. They get caught up in the day-to-day grind of their jobs. Identifying who is going to follow up on what and when will help avoid this problem.

Avoid the Now What Trap by making sure at the conclusion of each meeting you can answer the ‘Who-is-doing-What-by-When-and-Why’ question, as well as the, ‘How-will-follow-up-be-handled’ question. Good luck!