February 7, 2024

As an issues manager you can learn a lot from studying current events. Today’s blog is about lessons that can be applied from the border bill. In 1993, President Clinton (as I write in my book) undertook a massive restructuring of the health care system and failed. The border bill teaches lessons in managing complex issues:

  1. DEFINE THE PROBLEM: Here is where clarity really matters. You have to be able to articulate what problem you are trying to solve with the solution you create. Solving parts of multiple issues is not a good strategy to gain or maintain broad based support.
  2. LANGUAGE: Proponents have used the term “close the border” in their argument. In a sense this is part of the brand promise of the bill. The problem is that there is no proof that border can be closed or there is a willingness to close it.
  3. MOVING PARTS: The more pieces you try to sequence the easier it is for your plan to fall apart. The border bill addresses border, immigration, Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. This created more opportunities for opposition to form around the smallest of issues.
  4. CONFLICTS: The border problem and immigration are not the same issue and combining them is not a clean fit. Make sure that you deal with distinct issues and avoid assuming two things are the same.
  5. COMPLEXITY KILLS: Try not to create solutions that contain weak links by having too many dependent parts. Failure of any part creates a domino effect taking the good parts down with it.
  6. RESPONSIBILITY SHIFT: Crafting a solution to reassign blame is always a tough call. This usually only works when the solution you are proposing clearly solves the problem you have clearly defined.

Please contact me if you would like to learn more about our issues management workshops and training programs. We use case studies as current as today’s news to teach these concepts.