Diagnosing Organizations LO18052

Richard S. Webster (webster.1@osu.edu)
Sun, 10 May 1998 13:25:09 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO18026 --

Christopher, Dale & other LO colleagues - replying further to LO18019:

Thank you Dale, your response was helpful, and reminded me of related
resources and concepts that might also be useful:

1) Add another question to Dale's good list of three:

>1. What results do we want?
>2. What results are we getting?
>3. What is the difference between the results we want and the results we
>are getting? WHY are the differences between current and desired results

4. Why are these differences occuring; what are the reasons and the most
useful responses?

2) Think and inquire broadly: Trainers tend toward training as THE
solution. Bob Mager lists about 10 reasons why things (e.g. performance,
results, outcomes) aren't going as company managers would want. See:

- Mager, Robert F. "Performance analysis flowchart and worksheet."
Second edition - 1984, Center for Effective Performance (Atlanta, GA:
800-558-4237). An easy-to-use job aid for finding effective solutions to
performance problems. Most useful when combined with information in
Mager's "Analyzing performance problems..." (third edition, 1997) and
"Quick reference checklist," also available from CEPerformance in Atlanta.

- Mager, Robert F. & Peter Pipe. "Analyzing performance problems...."
Third edition-1997, Center for Effective Performance. This book describes
performance problems, and all the things that can cause them including the
need for improvement of one or more work-related skills.

- Mager, Robert F. "What every manager should know about training."
1992, Center for Effective Performance. Clear and jargon-free
introduction to performance technology, how to identify and solve
performance problems and how to work effectively with trainers.

Much of the "fact-finding" that will answer these four questions in what
the performance technologists call "front-end analysis," i.e. "lets try to
figure out what's REALLY wrong before we try to fix it!"

Once again: it's easy, when we're good with a hammer (or one or more
"training" interventions) to view every problem as a nail (or a knowledge
and skill deficit which many people think that "training" -- as different
that "learning" -- will deal with).

3) Look carefully at who controls what's "broke," and must buy-in and
support changes to make things better?

- A BIG part of the answer is to remember Dr. Edwards Deming's admonition
that (a) more than 80% of all problems in all organizations (e.g. problems
with productivity, performance, processes, results, outcomes) are in fact
system problems, and (b) the systems (and their constituent processes)
belong to the company, i.e. to management.

- Deming reminded us that work group members (the worker bees getting
things done "on the line") know how and want to make improvements in the
processes and systems they work with every day. No one knows better, he
said, how to fix things and make improvements than "them what's doing it."

- But how often do the members of our companies (usually called
"employees" at the front line working level -- as if the various "higher"
levels of management including the CEO and her/his top-level work group
weren't also "employees") get positive, supportive, encouraging responses
(with real recognition and rewards) to the questions of "Why can't we...,
Why won't they..., if we could only...!?"

4) Use performance technology and "front-end analysis" to examine these
questions. Many members of ISPI (International Society for Performance
Improvement) are good at using these tools and helping others learn about
them. I'm sure ISPI has a web site, the URL is not at hand.

5) Host Rick proposed "Let's broaden the question to include diagnosing
prior to an org learning initiative."

- Good and useful point, Rick. I intend the above information to serve
also this purpose. It seems to me that LO values and practices nicely
complement "quality improvement*" (QI*) values and practices. In
addition, QI has some 25 specific tools, about half using quantitative and
statistical methods or techniques, the other half less numerically
intensive for those "mathematically challenged."

One advantage of QI*, it seems to me, is that there is a specific tool
kit, with LOTS of experience published about using the tools. LO does not
yet have, to my knowledge, as specific and well-tested a set of tools. I
therefore believe that we LO'ers can learn from our colleagues that are
into QI*, and perhaps make more specific the descriptions of additional
tools we have found useful, e.g. the techniques described in "The Fifth
Discipline Field Book: Strategies and tools...," Peter Senge, et. al.,
1994, Doubleday.

5a) Does anyone know of a "LO / OL tool kit?" A listing of the contents
would be very helpful, also references to any citations, web sites, or
other resources that describe the tools in the kit.

* re "quality improvement" (QI) vs. "TQM:" Dr. Deming was reported to me
as having said "Hrmph - TQM! There's no such thing as 'TQM'!" Too bad,
it seems to me, that Dr. Deming failed to name his set of principles,
values, and practices for helping organizations to use SPC (statistical
process control) and other techniques for making useful changes. From my
reading I'd say he was a "statistical OD genius," but that doesn't help
replace the "TQM" label I'm told came from a Dept. of Defense (DOD)
official when speaking of quality management for DOD suppliers. Does
anyone have information on the source of "TQM?"

Perhaps the reasons that "TQM" is regarded in many companies as the
"flavor / modality of the month" for organizational change include: (1)
front-line scepticism about anything being "total" as far as change and
improvement are concerned, and (2) if "management" is involved we all know
just how much they really want and will support change in their systems -
note Dr. Deming's points above.

I have encountered both these viewpoints in companies claiming interest in
change programs, when "TQM" was mentioned as a valuable set of values,
practices and tools.

Experience has shown that "quality improvement" (QI) is a much less loaded
term, and often gets a much better hearing (i.e. more open-minded) as to
the processes and tools involved, resources that can be added to values,
practices and tools drawn from other key areas of change, including:

- creative ideas (CI),
- inclusive leadership (IL, e.g. Block's stewardship, Greenleaf's servant
- knowledge management (KM),
- learning organizations (LO),
- organization development (OD),
- participative management (PM), (and quality improvement, QI).

5b) What experience have others had on
(1) this view of "TQM," and
(2) the value of "collecting" tools from different areas (traditions)
for working on change, to create a more complete and useful set of tools
for working toward improvement objectives?

Trust this will be of some value, and look forward to learning about
others' experience and viewpoints.

Dick Webster

Richard S. Webster, Ph.D. - President
Personal Resources Management Institute
709 Wesley Court - Worthington OH 43085-3558
e-mail <webster.1@osu.edu>, fax 614-433-71-88, tel 614-433-7144

PRMI is a 501(c)3 non-profit research, development, and consulting company
founded in 1978. The Institute's programs and projects relate to:

- "Learning models," a key strategy for performance improvement and making
the paradigm shift from "training, instruction and teaching."

-- The use of proven change activities and tools for improving performance,
work processes, learning, and other desired results. Effective change
practices come from creative ideas (CI), inclusive leadership (IL, e.g.
Block's stewardship, Greenleaf's servant leadership), knowledge
management (KM), learning organizations (LO), organization development
(OD), participative management (PM), and quality improvement (QI).

--- Learning qualities of character and citizenship (QCC, referred to in
many educational circles as "character education.").

NB: Remember - learning is each person's responsibility, and opportunity.


"Richard S. Webster" <webster.1@osu.edu>

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