Fave idea of the week : July 11th, 2008

I was having lunch with Julia, and while we were wrapping up and paying the bill, she did a great job recapping the topics we covered, summarized my concerns/ideas, and reiterated the list of things that we had decided to do based on what we talked about.

Now Julia is a productivity maven, which in no way undermines her incredible sly sweetness. She’s really on the ball. But this was over-the-top on-the-ball. I told her I was impressed. She said “I’m reading this great book on facilitation. I don’t have issues, I have action items.”

The last part cracked me up. But actually, when I thought about it more, I was quite moved and inspired.

I’m sick of business-speak that euphemizes “issue” or “challenge” when what people really mean is “problem.” There is a difference, folks. I checked out the dictionary and pulled the definitions to see what nuance each word had:

  • Problem : Any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty.
  • Issue : A point, matter, or dispute, the decision of which is of special or public importance: ie: the business issue.
  • Challenge : Difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.

Sometimes the matter at hand isn’t of special importance. It’s not an issue, it’s a problem.

And often, there’s no stimulation or engagement for the person responsible for solving it. It’s not a challenge, it’s a problem.

But one thing they all have in common is that some action, decision or solution needs to happen. Julia hit the nail on the head. They all have action items. Or at least they should. Awesome.


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