What problem are we solving? The importance of a Diagnostic Review
In the interplay between humans, business processes and complex systems in any organisation, causes of poor performance are not always clear. Our understandings of problems vary, depending on our point of view. Executives often see a challenge quite differently from their staff, clients or supporting organisations.
In this environment, if we jump straight into ‘solution mode’ we are not likely to address the issues underlying project or program challenges. Unintended consequences of solving the wrong problem may even make things worse.
Diagnostic Review: designing the right thing
Here is where a structured, independent Diagnostic Review offers value. Diagnostic Review is a method of inquiry that identifies contributing factors, develops a shared understanding of the challenge and recommends steps to address the causes.
Diagnostic Review takes a design approach to critical questions. A lead investigator and team conduct the review, using their depth of experience in investigation, research and interviewing as well as interrogating complex systems, processes and procedures.
A Diagnostic Review is not about finding fault. It means judiciously assessing organisational issues and proposing evidence-based measures to improve performance. The Diagnostic Review process is illustrated below.
If you are familiar with design thinking, you will recognise this as the first half of the ‘double diamond’. These are the discover and define phases of the design process, what we call ‘designing the right thing’.