K3 Insights


4 min read - August 08, 2017


Many organisations need to transform if they are to survive and prosper. Unfortunately they confront challenges created through under-delivery in the face of marketplace pressures, because of capability gaps across their business. Organisations need to make choices around challenging their engrained thinking whether at a cultural, leadership, structural, process, systems, job design, metric or people capability level.

The stakes are high!

With a strategy focused on attaining future success, but with systemic gaps in capability areas that are most often aligned to the past, the success of any transformation is put at risk.

As a result of this climate, business leaders are now being required to engage in more robust, systemic diagnosis of their markets and organisations so as to solve problems, remove roadblocks and drive change.

But unless there is accurate root cause diagnosis, organisations often find themselves wasting resources and failing to meet their objectives. This is often when we are asked to assist, helping provide support through more effective diagnosis and advice.

While it is important to access data, it’s the ability to challenge assumptions, gain insights from questions and then test hypothesis that will truly enable an organisation to understand what needs to evolve or change.

You also need to understand whether an issue is systemic or non-systemic, or whether it is (at its root) individual, group or organisational in nature, all requiring potentially different ways of responding.

Often when we work with clients, outside of helping them solve the challenges they face, one of the key take-aways is the realisation of the importance of challenging people’s paradigms. When it comes to data, issues of interpretation, bias and assumption are often overlooked. As such, any project provides a valuable opportunity for us to raise people’s awareness and help them identify and understand their own bias.

But how do people across organisations better develop and utilise effective diagnosis?

Flexibility - Gone are the days when you had months to ruminate.  As with anything, taking a more continuous improvement or agile mind-set to situations will allow you to understand, iterate and move at pace.  Within any transformation journey there will be obvious points where it will make sense to take a snapshot of how things are progressing, to then move forward.  In an Agile world they call this ‘Inspect and Adjust’ and the principles apply here also.

Principles and Framework for diagnosis - Providing some structure to your diagnosis means there is a common language and capability being built which means that over time the ability to employ successful diagnoses becomes enhanced. It also means as you utilise effective diagnosis throughout transformation then you have a common anchor and data points to reference back to.

Skills to uncover information, root causes and assumptions – initially the best bet may be to use a partner who can bring expertise to the table which will enable quick, robust diagnosis to ensure the transformation journey begins as it means to continue.  However, they should also be able to help build capability within your internal teams and certainly for us this is always a key focus within any project.  How can we leave a lasting diagnostic skill base to continue on the work and ensure the organisation through its continual transformation will embed, flex, pivot and succeed?

Move from diagnosis to interventions – understanding where the opportunities or problems lie is only a first step.  Organisations need to know how to use these insights to drive the right types of interventions that will enable the success of any transformation and, as a result, the delivery of the strategy.  By being clear on the ongoing diagnosis that will be employed organisations can also hold people to account to drive what is required (or iterate and pivot) within the afforded time frames.  Organisations need to know if the indicators of success are prevalent and this will come through timely, regular diagnoses. Whether you’re a business leader that is directing an organisation transformation, or a professional that helps facilitate those initiatives, the ability to diagnose, propose organisation interventions, monitor and adjust to advance your business is critical. 

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