Clarification of Terms

The following remarks are excerpted from a speech by Teresa Yancey Crane, founder of the Issue Management Council and part of the team that worked with Howard Chase to develop the first Issue Management Process Model in 1977.

Think of an issue as a gap between your actions and stakeholder expectations.

Issue management is the process used to close that gap.

There is more than one way to do this. Your organization can adjust to meet expectations creating a new product, or modifying operations. In this case, an issue is managed by division heads or other specific line managers.

The gap may be closed by accommodating through policy decisions, for example, a policy of sustainable forestry will drive operations and individual action in many ways. Here, the change involves the board of directors to set the policy and senior management to implement it.

Another way the gap may be closed is by changing constituent expectations: for example, providing public education on product testing, or community dialogue on safety procedures. In this third case, expectations are changed through communications expertise.

Most likely, you will apply a combination of all of these strategies.

So you see, issue management involves many parts of the organization. This is why it is unique from traditional strategic planning, or corporate governance, or public relations. Issue management provides the mechanism for all of these functions to work in a team on one specific objective; closing the gap, or managing the issue..