How Proper Diagnosis Leads to Change Transformation Success
Reed Deshler | May 10, 2017
The times of “stasis” in organization life are nearly gone, and the notion of being “Always on” transformation has gained more traction than ever (BCG). New frameworks, improvement approaches, and ways of working (such as Agile and digital transformation) are helping companies in very specific areas and markets manage constant change and infinite market fluidity. But what does this mean for organization design? And, specifically, how do you accurately diagnose problems that are constantly changing?
The reality is that if you are always in a transformative posture, you must also always be in a diagnostic posture. Without regular diagnosis in an environment of constant transformation, companies create blind spots to the market, their customers, and may very well find themselves worse off at the end of an organization transformation rather than ahead of their competitors.
So, how can you constantly diagnose your organization?
- Work in sprints. There are critical points throughout a change transformation journey when you should, as they say in Agile, “inspect and adjust” your plan. Rather than try to stop work mid-flow to diagnose progress, instead, borrow a chapter from the Agile playbook and work in sprints, focusing on a few things at a time rather than trying to do everything at once. Grouping the work in sprints, you can diagnose after each one. Additionally, you may reap other benefits too—increased speed, a chance to vet a design with trusted customers, and less expense if you need to alter a design mid-stream.
- Develop a diagnostic process. If you complete a diagnosis after each sprint, you will need to do it quickly and uniformly. Develop a process for your diagnosis and standardize it throughout your organization or function. A regular and robust process will increase speed and won’t interfere with the flow of your change transformation.
- Tools to measure progress. A diagnosis isn’t much good if you don’t have a way to measure your progress. If you don’t currently have tools, ask your change partner for suggestions or develop your own to measure your progress throughout the transformation journey. These tools and metrics may not be conclusive to your overall change transformation success, but they should give you incremental indicators of progress (see our Measurement blog for more information).
- A framework. Every project needs a rough roadmap and a framework that will provide a direction for your change transformation and room to iterate along the way. While there are many frameworks out there, some are more flexible than others, allowing you to constantly monitor progress and ultimately arrive at your desired outcome.
- Hold people accountable. Conducting regular assessments of progress requires ownership. Assign diagnosis responsibilities to specific individuals and hold them accountable for timely, regular diagnoses.
- Use a change partner. Change partners can bring expertise, framework(s), and tools that can help accelerate the change transformation journey and ensure that it develops smoothly. Find a change partner that you can trust and that has experience guiding an organization design iteratively (see our blog on how to find an effective change partner).
In a constantly changing environment, organizations need the ability to flex and pivot quickly to respond to demands. Constant diagnosis helps make this possible, providing regular check-ups along the way and a way to ensure that your organizational transformation continues to fit market needs.