Organizational Diagnosis – A Tool in the I/O Psychologist’s Toolbox – Part Three

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Last week we explored the second reason a client may want to have an organizational diagnosis performed within their organization. As you may recall, Organizational Diagnosis is a methodology used by an I/O Psychology Practitioner to enter into the organization, collect data about the organization, and feedback information to the management team that creates an understanding of the organization’s system and whether a change initiative might be in order. It is one of the many tools in the I/O Psychologist’s toolbox and it is foundational to many of the other tools the professional uses especially in regard to change management.

We also explored the second of the three reasons for performing an organizational diagnosis:
• To determine how and why the organization is dysfunctional
To prevent dysfunction from occurring
• To prepare for a planned change initiative.

We concluded last week’s blog by exploring an example of how the tool was used with a client to proactively prevent future changes in the organizational design from becoming new causes of dysfunction.

Prepares For a Planned Change Initiative

The third reason a client may want to perform an organizational diagnosis is preparatory in nature – preparing for a planned change in some aspect of the organization. For the organizational leadership to lead and manage change, the current “as is” situation must be defined, the future state must be envisioned, and an action plan that moves the organization from its current state to the future state must be created and implemented.

Organizational Diagnosis can contribute to the creation of an effective action plan by ensuring that the current situation and its drivers are thoroughly understood so that the change plan includes activity that can break through the constraints to reaching the future state.

Here is an example; a client was about to undertake a change management initiative with an objective to integrate a continuous improvement management system into their way of doing things. To prepare for this change effort, the client asked me to perform a diagnosis to determine what things might be a potential constraint to the successful integration of the system.

During the feedback session, I shared with the client that the single biggest risk to the success of the initiative was the lack of competency and assertiveness among the front line supervisor personnel. As long as they were weak, it would be difficult to overcome the negative impact that their weak supervisory skills would have on employees and thus it would be difficult to engage employees in the continuous improvement initiative. The client asked, “What are our options for eliminating this constraint?” That led to a conversation and ultimately the development of a plan that would improve the competency and assertiveness of the supervisory team so that they would no longer constrain the larger change effort.

This is a great example of a proactive use of the organizational diagnosis tool. It’s not reactionary, it’s not preventative; instead it is proactively focused on reducing the risk of failure associated with the strategic organizational change initiative they intend to follow through with.

The Three Reasons for an Organizational Diagnosis

As we have worked through this topic of “The Reasons for Organization Diagnosis” we have found three reasons and have explored examples of each. Again the three reasons include:
• To determine how and why the organization is dysfunctional
• To prevent dysfunction from occurring
• To prepare for a planned change initiative.

Your Takeaway

Being proactive in reducing the risk of a change initiative or project of some sort is important.  One of the things that I learned after moving to northern Wisconsin from Oregon is that it gets really cold in Wisconsin. The ground freezes up to 5 to 6 feet deep during some winters. I found out that as the ground un-thaws, the ground moves and heaves in upward, downward, and sideways directions. And if you build a deck and have not built it with a deep foundation – something below the winter freeze line, your deck will move up and down and sideways. Being proactive in finding what you can do to reduce the risk of failure in regard to something you will build or change is important. It can save you from tearing out what you did, prevent aggravation and embarrassment, and finally save dollars and time.

The Next Blog

We have talked in our last three blogs about the different ways that the organizational diagnosis tool can be used. What we have not explored is the process or methodology of this tool. So, let’s talk about that a bit in our next blog.

After we have explored this topic of organizational diagnosis, an organization health survey will be provided to you so that you can do a basic diagnosis on your own organization.

So stay with me. The tool is coming.

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