Oh! We love diagnosis! Battalions of experts are ready to tell us about the 5 issues and the 3 risks and the 7 flaws.
What’s wrong with my organization? Well. Let’s do a cultural assessment, an analysis of the decision making process, an evaluation of the quality of production, the process of implementation.
Done. Perfect picture, here it is, plus the stack of powerpoints. Your dossier.
And now, what? Well, I suppose you reverse gears, or change the windows, or reorganize here and there. Most diagnosis imply a ‘so this is what you should do ’. The most dangerous are the ones where this ‘so what’ is almost served on a plate because it feels like a natural progression of the diagnosis. People will jump in, drastic solutions will often be favoured, and nobody will question much.
Take for example the one I often use. Silos. People don’t talk to each other. And we have Division A, Division B and Division C. And they don’t talk to each other. And they should. You have just done a thorough analysis of the situation, and the consulting group has come back to you with the diagnosis: people don’t talk to each other, and they should. All clearly articulated in a 300 page report. Technicolor, by the way.
Well. It seems pretty obvious. You amalgamate the three A,B,C divisions into a Division D, save the salary of 2 Senior VP (not small potato) and now, everybody under the same roof (perhaps even physical, but certainly hierarchical) will talk to each other. Or else. This is major stuff with lots of disruptions. It’s called consolidation, by the way
Six months on the road, people within Division D do not talk to each other. And they should. How come?
Chances are the problem is behavioural. No amount of silo destroying will solve a behavioural problem where people do not have to, do not need to, do not feel like, ‘talking to each other’. And, that has worked well for a long time. People can get away with it, monthly salaries keep coming and bonuses are in the cards.
The diagnosis of silo structure and mentality (which you were able to confirm a few thousand dollars later) has lead to pavlovian structural reaction. Now, try to undo this?
The bridge between diagnosis and therapy is not obvious, not even in Medicine, let alone in organizational life. In the example before, a behavioural problem has been given a structural solution. This is the most obvious one, and the one which almost never works.
The bridge is called critical thinking, suspend judgement, avoid immediate reaction, imagine solution 1, solution 2 and solution 3 in place, reframe the problem. Anything that looks obvious is suspicious.
A beautiful diagnosis does not guarantee a beautiful solution, beautifully expected.
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