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Organizational Diagnosis

A new way to diagnose the health of your organization

Eric Johnson

on 7 August 2014

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Transcript of Organizational Diagnosis

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Step ONE
Step TWO
Marketing & Sales
Late Summer
Finance & Accounting
Letting Go
Deep Thinking
Information & Knowledge
Vision & Strategy
Labor Management
Policies & Procedures
1. See - Looking at your organization (the visible): Structure, behaviors, systems, physical space, etc. ?

2. Listen - Listening to understand the deeper currents - emotions?

3. Inquire - Asking excellent questions?

4. Feel - Taking the pulse – What and How are you measuring?

Does your organization have a mission that is clear to all stakeholders?

Do you develop clear goals (by project, daily, weekly, etc.; individual, team, department, etc.) that everyone agrees with?

What are you committed to?
Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder Analysis
Polarity - Dialectic
the foundation of eastern thinking is based on yin-yang - the idea that there are always two (or more) things in a dialectical relationship.
What polarities does your organization work to hold in balance? How much energy is it taking?
How do you manage the diversity of perspectives and ways to do get the job done?
This is a cyclical model. Cyclical models may be concurrent and recursive. The heart of cyclical models is the quality of the movement through the model.
What paradoxes are at play in your organization?
Seriously? That's it?
There are more stakeholders you need to consider
Consider the impact and leverage of these stakeholders...
Social Media
Business Partners
The Industry
Future Generations
The Nourishing Cycle
each element or season nourishes the next element in the cycle. This relationship implies potential.
The Controlling or Restraining Cycle
each element has control over the element two steps later in the cycle. When your business experiences "stuckness" in one element, begin the intervention process two steps back. This relationship is based on tension, healthy or unhealthy.
Research & Development
Training & Development
Learning Organization
Reward Systems
This is a process of diagnosing the health of your organization, blending eastern and western ways of thinking. The Western way of thinking breaks a system into parts for analysis, called reductionism. Even western systems thinking can be reductionistic. The predominant metaphors are mechanical, biological or social - such as a well-oiled machine, a healthy body, sports, war and other human activities. Westerners see problems - which are often symptoms with underlying systemic causes, often ignored. Problem-solving often leads to the erroneous adoption of management fads resulting in marginal short-term benefits.
Force Field Analysis
Forces driving the change
Forces that want to maintain the status quo
The Eastern way of thinking notices the relationships within a system, recognizing an infinite number of parts. The relationships are often understood through natural metaphors of the environment such as seasons and elements and through paradox such as black/white, hot/cold, fast/slow, good/bad. Organizational health is the movement of energy (attention, finance, resources, people) to support resilience to disturbance and innovation for development. An Eastern approach to diagnosis looks for stuckness in the system of relationships and in the movement of energy; either avoidance or hyper-attraction. This leads to a balance of short-term and long-term strategic benefits that improve competitive advantage.
This Five Phase Diagnostic method does both.

Management gurus often employ analytical procedures with organizations to align with the pre-ordained strategy and vision of the core group. There are two important things to keep in mind about that process. From research we now know that all organizations are focused on one mission, to satisfy the needs of the "core group" (Kleiner, 2003). Employees will make decisions and take actions that they perceive will satisfy the desires of the core group. This leads to the second thing; that every person in a business is constantly engaged in “sensemaking” (Weick, 1995, 2001), which means that decisions are made intuitively and emotionally, then validated by choosing data and methods that will confirm the decisions (Rock, 2009). This tool will get us started on making our subconscious meaning-making and decision processes more conscious. The Five Phase Method concedes the emotional decision making process and works with it to diagnose and assess a system before choosing goals and taking action.

Contact me to facilitate this process with you and your organization, you will be amazed at what you discover!

Organizational Health is the quality of the movement and alignment of organizational energy to improve multidimensional value
the most insidious conflict that an organization faces is the dissonance that people experience about their roles in their lives. How well aligned are the values that underpin the roles each stakeholder owns with the values of the organization? What are you doing to manage those conflicts?
Prioritizing Values
Five Phases for Organizations
Five Phases Descriptors
Seven States of Organizational Energy
Fast & Slow
Excess & Deficiency
Internal & External
Inherited & Acquired
attention, finance and resources can be translated to be the speed at which energy moves through the organization. When organizational energy moves too fast or slow it creates stress in different ways. The clearest way to exemplify the impact of this characteristic is with the Yerkes-Dodson Law that has been used to understand stress in organizational populations.
the excess and deficiency character of organizational energy is too much or too little attention, financial or resource support. Organizations typically have a cultural history of prioritizing departments and organizational processes. What rules do you use to manage the dialectics of finances and resources? Do you have rules for managing attention ?
internal activity is the organizational energy that is used to maintain the organization, it is self-productive. External activity is the process whereby an organization produces something other than the organization itself. The SWOT analysis grid is an assessment example of this state of organizational energy.
this is the difference between the cultural history and shared assumptions (Schein, 1992) and the new information, cultural artifacts (Schein, 1992), money, resources and people that are brought into an organization. Ackoff, Addison and Bibb (2007) give it a systems thinking perspective “that change…makes much of what was learned in the past irrelevent or obsolete… But unlike corporations, knowledge is easily renewable” (p.11). As exemplified by leading and lagging indicators, past, present and future are forms of this state of quality.
observation often implies empirical discovery of business activity and includes assessments, structural charts, noticing behaviors and other visually observable phenomenon. Observations are focused on current events, both inside and outside the operations of the business. As noted earlier, observation of the organization is highly biased. Recognizing bias allows a more objective approach, or at least a consciously subjective approach, to diagnosis.
Listening to understand the deeper currents like emotions throughout the social concinnity of the organization is a key skill for leaders, and can provide important diagnostic information about the state of health. Current organizational theory is advancing the need for “emotional intelligence” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). Bridges (2009) researched the effects of emotion on employees to find more effective ways to manage resistance to change. Team-building initiatives grew out of the recognition that organizations can be more effective if leadership is shared, which implies that team members can “hear” each other more clearly to explore, plan, decide and act more quickly to react to markets changes and innovate (Johnson & Johnson, 2006).
Referred to as strategic questioning or inquiry or framing, skillful questions allow the flow of thinking rather than increasing resistance. They open up the context for new learning and discovery, expanding possibilities, enlarging the landscape and catalyzing networks. Strategic questions have a three dimensional architecture: their construction, their scope and the assumptions they contain. The key leverage point for the fourth step in the five phase method is not which questions are being asked, but whether and how the organization facilitates strategic questioning.
Taking the pulse of the organization involves a deeper inquiry into what is being measured, and how it is being measured. Most assessment is grounded in financial measures as an easily translatable commonality between all businesses. But if most assessment is financial, inherent bias rears its head, and diverts attention away from other important factors of organizational success. The rise of new sustainability measures and indicators of organizational health exemplify the limitation of relying on the financial measurement for indicators of effectiveness and success. The triple bottom line model (see Figure), as amended by Herman Daly (2010), presupposes that economic measures are central for business, but also allows that other forms of measurement are important. Some businesses are paying closer attention to environmental and social impacts, not because of the financial incentive, but because of the mindset of the leaders, who then create financial validation of their decisions. Embedded deeply in the presuppositions of the five phases method is a more coherent understanding of the tenuous relationships between the environment, non-human life and human systems. This part of Step four pulls this presupposition closer to the surface of consciousness.
Translating Vision and Strategy: Four Perspectives
Kaplan, R.S., Norton, D.P. (1996). Using the balanced scorecard as a strategic management system. Harvard Business Review, January-February, p. 76
A Strategic Theme Defines the Process, Intangible Assets, Targets, and Initiatives Required to Execute a Piece of the Strategy
Kaplan, R.S., Norton, D.P. (2004). How strategy maps frame an organization’s objectives. Financial Executive, March/April, p.44
The added value of the Five Phase Method for the Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map is clarifying the relationships between the five phases in a non-linear map.
The Balanced Scorecard represents the five phases of the Spring phase - Strategy and planning. This is an example of how each phase contains the five phases.
Use the arrows below to move through the presentation.
You can move around by holding down the mouse button and dragging the page, when you see the little hand grab the screen.
You can zoom in/out using the mouse wheel, touchpad or the toolbar that appears on the right.

(click on the link)
appreciative energy moves in a way that is perceived as helpful, constructive and something that is working well. The appreciative approach comes first, recognizing the strengths of an organization. We are trained to look for problems or gaps throughout our lives, so noticing the energy that is a problem or is missing is a natural instinct in business. Understanding both qualities of organizational energy is necessary, and research in positive psychology and appreciative inquiry is changing the way we manage.
Establish clear, operational, relevant group goals that create positive, interdependence and evoke a high level of commitment from every member.

Groups exist for a reason. People join groups to achieve goals they are unable to achieve by themselves. To be effective, goals must be clear, so that all members understand the nature of the goals; the goals must be operational, so that members understand how to achieve the goals; the goals must be relevant to members’ needs, so that they commit themselves to achieve the goals; and the goals must create positive interdependence among members. There are hundreds of studies indicating that group effectiveness, group cohesion, and the well-being of members depend on members believing that they “sink or swim together.” If clear and operational positive goal interdependence is not established in a group, then all the following guidelines become meaningless.
Nurturing & Limiting
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If this circle is your business, which stakeholders are inside the circle and which stakeholders are outside the circle? What products and services are inside and outside the circle? What does that mean and what would it mean to bring more stakeholders inside your circle?
Five Phase Method of Organizational Diagnosis
Providing a map for improving organizational health is the purpose of the five phase method. From the review of literature, organizational health is the quality of the movement and alignment of organizational energy to improve multidimensional value.

There are three types of organizational energy; financial, resources, and attention. Each of these types exhibits six states of quality of movement; fast or slow, excess or deficiency, internal or external focus, stasis or development, inherited or acquired, and nurturing or uncomfortable.

Improving the alignment of the various types of organizational energy can improve organizational success (Galbraith, Downey & Kates, 2002; Gharajedaghi, 2006; Hall, 1987; Kaplan & Norton, 1996; Keller & Price, 2011; Porter, 1998). Alignment in the five phase method refers to the understanding of how types of organizational energy work in harmony among the five phases. For example, resources in use in the Late Summer phase need to be aligned with the measurement of the use of those resources in Autumn, their procurement in Winter, the establishment of needs in Spring and the end-use and disposal in the Summer phase.

Value has multiple dimensions (Eccles & Krzus, 2010; Laszlo, 2008; Savitz & Weber, 2006) and is perceived based on the development of the person (Hall, 1987, 1994). Value for organizations extends beyond the financial bottom-line to include the need to improve social value and environment value.
"I would accept the possibility of infinite growth in the economy on the day that one of my economist colleagues could demonstrate that Earth itself could grow at a commensurate rate."

- Herman Daly (Senior Economist for the World Bank)
Stasis & Development
this is the overarching quality recognizing that parts of systems need to stay the same while others need to develop. Other quality tensions exist within this such as simple/complex or rigid/flexible and consistent/creative. Problems occur when a particular form of energy is too simple or too complex. Systems thinking and a world-centric developmental perspective require complexity, while effective goal-setting requires simplicity.
What about :
Good and Bad are purely subjective terms. When noticing the quality of the six states of organizational energy, the quality of the tension between the polarities of the states of energy is as important as which polarity is dominant or preferred by organizational system. How healthy is the tension between the polarities in each of these organizational energy states?
And remember that the idea of "balance" is misleading too. Holding something in balance is only temporary. The objective and subjective reality is that we vascillate between the polarities of each of these states of organizational energy, so the energy is always moving.
Conscious & Unconscious
"There is nothing more practical than a good theory." - Kurt Lewin
Kinetic & Potential
this quality is often overlooked or confused. Our organizations are really great at some things, that's the best of our Kinetic energy. Kinetic is also the energy that accounts for those actions that are constant, the busy work, that defines our operations. Yet, we sometimes believe that our Potential energy is our Kinetic, when we are actually not using our Potential well, or at all. This is the most common mis-take from strategic planning. We want it to be true, but it isn't.
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