Capture the Flag

by Tim McMullen

Remember the game Capture the Flag? Spotting and taking ownership of a flag is a GOOD thing. The same thing applies to our business. In my 20+ years in this crazy business, I have yet to see a project go perfectly every step of the way. The real trick is to embrace this reality and actually seek out the flags. Finding them before they become big issue is much less stressful and even a little bit fun.

“Hey, good thinking — we should do it. It could knock us off track from what we promised by Friday. So, if we are going to do that, we need to reset and align with the client”… or the team…or the budget. You name it — something needs addressing. Not on Thursday or Friday, but now, when the issue is small. This is called “raising a flag.” It should never kill smart thinking, but instead ensure that smart thinking isn’t then followed by a not-so-smart decision. Not aligning with all parties involved is a not-so-smart decision.

Promises to clients and teammates should be looked at as an ongoing practice. Not something you set and forget at the start of a project.

In our world, a flag is when a member of the team, or the client, says, “something isn’t right here.” It could be when a teammate identifies a specific need to make the work of highest quality, or when a client expresses a desire or frustration that isn’t fully resolved. A flag can also be raised if someone feels that there is misalignment. Whatever the flag may be, we embrace it and use EOS’s Issue Solving Track (IDS Method) until the person who raised the flag says, “This is no longer an issue for me.”

Here’s a quick look at how we use the method:

  • Identify the issue as specifically and objectively as possible.
  • Discuss the issue with relevant people.
  • Agree on a solution and confirm resolution.

Rather than ignoring flags or seeing them as something negative, we’re seeking them out and viewing them in a positive light. Here are the benefits we’re experiencing as a result of this mind-frame:

1. Autonomy

We’re in control — intentionally addressing issues before they become problems.

2. Better Alignment

We’re keeping the discussion open until everyone is on the same page and knows their role.

3. Higher Quality of Work

We’re fixing things that have the potential to erode project quality, rather than ignoring them. We’re constantly learning.

4. More Satisfaction

Using this method, people feel heard, and we’re producing at a high level and as a team, which is very gratifying.

“Good job! We are glad you brought that up. Let’s talk it through and be sure we are making the work better and getting everyone back on the same page.”

A few cool things we've done

Strategic Consulting

Mars Petcare

Learn more
Brand Building

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Learn more
Integrated Campaigns


Learn more