When is a Tension Too General?

I had a one on one with my VP of Finance today, and one of the items she needed help with was defining her tension for our governance meeting Wednesday.  It is our first formally facilitated meeting, and I asked her and the rest of my executive team to come to the meeting with 2-3 tensions to be processed.  The first tension she had was “procurement”.  I told her there’s never a tension that is “wrong”, and even if she didn’t know what to propose she can come to the meeting with it and as part of the process she could ask for input.  She understood that, but since this is our first governance meeting, she is nervous and wanted to be more prepared than that, so to put her mind at ease we decided to clarify it in our one on one.

I asked some clarifying questions around procurement and discovered that everything about procuring hardware and software was working fine for her.  It was just an issue with some certain cloud services that we resell.  The problem came down to item descriptions that aren’t being maintained properly, which is causing problems when they get synced into our accounting system.  I threw out an idea that she could propose a “Cloud Services Procurement Specialist” role, which would be responsible for maintaining those.  I think that’s when the light went on, because she was a lot more relaxed when we discussed another tension around HR.  With a few clarifying questions, we identified that the issue centered around a new 401k provider we are using starting January 1st.  That new 401k will require some additional work to process deposits, and she was worried about it.  I didn’t even have to suggest a proposal for a new role – she got it and was ready to go put her tensions in Glassfrog for the meeting.

Just two days until our first governance meeting!

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