The Symptoms of What’s Not Working Diagnostic

In today’s overwhelmingly difficult commercial environment, it can be difficult to know where to start in making sense of what’s going on and what to do about it.

The Symptoms of What’s Not Working Diagnostic is our most commonly recommended first step, helping to achieve:

  • Understanding: addressing reality head-on to uncover how today’s general pressures manifest themselves specifically in your situation and how they are perceived.
  • Engagement: encouraging frank and honest feedback at scale from diverse stakeholders.
  • Resources: building a business case for the investment and commitment required to take action.
  • Focus: identifying strengths, weaknesses, and which areas to target – and how – to make the most impact with typically scarce time and resources.
  • Measurement: gauging effectiveness, learning lessons and, where necessary, changing course.

What are “Symptoms”?

The Symptoms of What’s Not Working Diagnostic contains up to 42 known and recurring problems – or “symptoms” – that respondents are asked to consider:

Derived from a combination of our experience, client feedback and research, the symptoms all reflect Things That Matter not working:

  • Perhaps the wrong approach is being taken.
  • Perhaps those involved aren’t aligned on the Things That Matter.
  • Perhaps the Things That Matter haven’t even been surfaced and considered.

In all cases, the symptoms stand in the way of realising Value – whether “live” issues that cloud out everything else until dealt with, or pitfalls that must be avoided at all costs.

Using the Diagnostic

Organised into four sections that help clarify each situation’s unique “profile” of symptoms – Results, Methods, People and Purpose – respondents will evaluate how problematic each symptom seems to them:

This approaches the situation holistically from the different perspectives of What is happening, How it is happening, how it is affecting Who is involved, and Why they are doing what they’re doing.

The Symptoms of What’s Not Working Diagnostic is presented in a fully secure online environment, where no technical knowledge is required, and where all information and data is held securely (and not shared with any third party).

Upon submitting their response, each respondent receives a personalised report that presents back and highlights aspects of what they have said. 

When all respondents have submitted responses, a more detailed report is generated that synthesises and analyses across all the data to identify:

  • Overall trends.
  • Specific areas that seem agreed to be problematic (and areas that are going well).
  • Areas with a diverse spread of opinion, suggesting division or perception gaps to resolve – within the parties, between the parties, or both.
  • Patterns amongst the issues that have been found.
  • Frequent terms used, which can be the beginnings of a shared language.
  • Recommended next steps.

Diagnostic Deployment Options

Sometimes, an individual might want to trial the diagnostic first, prior to wider deployment – potentially customising the content to suit – and sometimes a trial group might “pilot” it.

(In the latter case, both to road-test the process and to surface preliminary findings that a wider deployment can later expand on.)

In a relationship context, specifically, both parties are usually engaged from the outset, but:

  • If the other party doesn’t want to engage, the initiating party might proceed to gain its own insights, to demonstrate the value to the other party, or both.
  • The initiating party may want to hold off engaging the other party, to get its own house in order first with respect to the relationship.

In all cases, though, the diagnostic works in the same way.

The Benefits That Follow

The Symptoms of What’s Not Working diagnostic can bring many benefits.

In all cases, it will clarify where your thinking is really at – including how aligned (or otherwise) you all are – and establish a benchmark which you can return to later, to track change and evaluate the effectiveness of actions taken.

If you uncover that everything is plain sailing for now, you will have thoroughly substantiated this…

…but more likely is that you will uncover areas of difficulty, where you will have:

  • Provided a constructive outlet for clearing the air, surfacing any feelings of powerlessness, voicelessness and frustration, and preparing to reorient around solutions.
  • Developed a new way of thinking about the current situation – not just as a vague or general sense of difficulty, but as a specific subset of a known range of challenges, for which specific solutions can be found.
  • Engaged a set of people with the real problems you are facing – some possibly for the first time, granting you new insights and expertise to access.
  • Seen if there are individuals that seem to want to take a lead in understanding and addressing these problems.
  • Clarified where to focus, which may include discussing and resolving different perspectives, as well as a specific subset of symptoms to prioritise.

You will also have a substantial, compelling and clear base of evidence and material for a business case, “demanding” that change happen and advocating that resources be allocated to do so:

  • Where there is a change initiative in mind, this will be more grist to the mill.
  • Where there isn’t, you now have a foundation for one.

Most of all, you will have opened up many options for where to go next.

Getting Started

A typical Symptoms of What’s Not Working diagnostic involves the following:

  • Setting scope and confirming price.
  • A focus on uncovering existing issues in a situation that needs to be more effective.
  • A 2-4 week period for respondents to complete the diagnostic.
  • Use of the standard version of the diagnostic (i.e. without customization of content).
  • Up to 10 respondents (or 20 for the 2 parties in a relationship).
  • Upload of respondent details, automated invitations, reminders and updates.
  • Handling of any email bounces or replies.
  • PDF response report for each team member.
  • Aggregated and anonymised PDF report including:
    • Analysis of overall trends and specific areas.
    • Highlighted perception gaps.
    • Recommended next steps.
  • Reviewing findings with the Value Management team.

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