Organizational Diagnosis and diagnostics

Organizational Diagnostics

In the area of Organizational Development there are many activities and disciplines.
One of those is the area of organizational diagnosis and the use of structured organizational diagnostic tools.

The effective diagnosis of organizational culture, and structural and operational strengths and weaknesses are fundamental to any successful organizational development intervention. As Beckhard
said in the preface to his seminal work

… in our rapidly changing environment, new
organization forms must be developed; more effective goal-setting and planning
processes must be learned, and practiced teams of independent people must spent
real time improving their methods of working, decision-making and communicating.
Competing or conflicting groups must move towards a collaborative way of work.
In order for these changes to occur and be maintained, a planned, managed change
effort is necessary – a program of organizational development.

This was written in 1969 and while much has been learnt it is just as true today.
Since the beginnings of organizational development as a profession, diagnosis has moved from the purely behavioral towards a strategic and holistic business diagnostic approach. Moving away from looking at human interventions in isolation, to exploring the interactions of people in the context in which they operate. equally as organizations are increasingly collaborative in nature, the traditional silo approach to diagnostics is becoming increasingly rare. Organizational development and in particular the diagnostic phase of activities is spreading from the occupational psychologists towards main stream business. This is important for OD practitioners as the role is increasingly holistic in its nature.

The Consulting Process
The organizational diagnostic phase is often integrated within an overal OD process, commonly called ‘a consulting process’.
An example of such a process is:

Entry –> Diagnosis –> Action Planning –> Implementation –> Termination

As the second phase in most change of consulting cycles it is also the first fully operational phase of the consulting process or cycle. The purpose of the diagnosis is to examine the problem faced by the organization in some detail, to identify factors and forces that are causing the problem and prepare all information needed for deciding how to orientate any possible solutions to the problems identified.

The diagnosis of the problem is a separate phase or set of activities from the solutions themselves.

The BIR is a holistic organizational diagnostic tool designed to enable organizations to explore the strengths and weaknesses of their current situation, to plan a journey and to measure progress along that journey. The BIR does not follow a single management model or fad, but allow the organization to look and reflect without judgement, yet using perceptions from the key stakeholders

1. Organizational Development: strategies and models – Beckhard 1969
2. Management Consulting – Kubr
3. Organizational Diagnosis – Harry Levinson 1972
4. Organizational Diagnosis – A workbook of theory and Practice – Marvin R Weisbord 1978
5. Organizational Diagnosis – A practical approach to company problem solving and growth 1988
6. Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture – Cameron & Quinn 1999

Written by mm and submitted to wikipedia 2008

Mike Morrison is director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy. He has been involved in HR, OD and strategic development for over 20 years. He can be contacted via

© This article is copyright RapidBI 2006-2008 – it may be copied providing the authors are credited, and direct links maintained

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