Diagnosing Organizations LO18074

Dale Emery (dale@dhemery.com)
Mon, 11 May 1998 21:06:55 -0700

Replying to LO18052 --


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

Yes! Further, remember that what now seems "broke" was very likely
developed to solve some past (and possibly current) problem.

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

I've never liked the word "diagnosing" in the context of organizations.
It brings to my mind the idea of sickness. I prefer Marvin Weisbord
question: What is possible here? (Weisbord once wrote a book called
Diagnosing Organizations, but I heard him say he no longer likes the
notion of diagnosing either.)

> 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.

I've come to see the value of leaving things nameless. The name initially
gives people the useful illusion that they are all talking about the same
thing, and helps to spread the ideas quickly. Once people start to
experience the difficulty of any kind of improvement system, they tend to
hang all of the difficulties onto the name, and the illusion that people
are all talking about the same thing turns from a benefit to a weight that
drags the concept down. TQM, Quality Circles, Zero Defects, ISO 9000,
Business Process Reengineering, even Learning Organizations... you can
probably think of other examples as well.

In a fit of perversity, I've given this notion a name: The If You Name It,
They'll Blame It Principle.



Dale H. Emery -- Collaborative Consultant High Performance for Software Development Projects E-mail: dale@dhemery.com Web: http://www.dhemery.com

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>