Get on the same page with issue management

Are you meeting your stakeholders’ needs?

Are you sure?

Issues management aligns an organization’s actions and stakeholder expectations, according to the Issue Management Council. An issue doesn’t have to be tied to a particular crisis or policy. Any time constituents’ needs aren’t met, issues management can help close the gap.

Issues management involves many parts of the organization, setting it apart from strategic planning, organizational leadership or communications.

“Issue management provides the mechanism for all of these functions to work in a team on one specific objective,” according to the Issue Management Council.

The disconnect between an organization and its stakeholders can be fixed through multiple solutions. An organization can adapt to meet the needs of its consumers by changing practices or implementing new policies. The organization could also change consumer expectations with educational efforts or product and message testing.

Most likely, one solution won’t be enough; a combination of practices will help the groups meet in the middle.

The council established a model for issue management in 1977, though an organization’s needs will vary depending on the specific issue.

“At the heart of each step of the model is the interaction among citizens, business and government,” the Issue Management Council explains. “The push-and-pull relationship governs the core of our society and serves as the birthplace of all issues.”

  • Identification: Consider current trends in the social, political or economic realms and compare them to your organizational goals.
  • Analysis: Draw on past experiences and research about the issue. How have other organizations reacted previously? How can the issue affect the organization?
  • Options and strategies for change: Decide which stance your organization will take when facing this issue. It might be beneficial to remain in a more reactive position, or an organization can choose to adapt as necessary or take a dynamic, proactive role.
  • Implement action: Now that the “front end” of the issue has been addressed, an organization should set about setting a goal, objectives, strategies and tactics. This creates measurable outcomes or steps that will help an organization arrange resources in the most effective manner.
  • Evaluation of results: Consider how you should react to future issues — because they will come. Issue management is a cyclical process that reinvents itself with new people, new attitudes and new results.
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