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Breakthrough Process 4 – System Wide Diagnosis: What Needs to be Addressed?

Step four in the Breakthrough Process involves conducting a system-wide diagnosis to identify key areas that require attention in a change initiative. This stage is essential to focus on specific aspects that need improvement and to sift through various possibilities. The Organization Effectiveness (OE) team, comprising cross-functional members from different organizational levels, plays a significant role. Paired OE team members work directly with client groups to collect data, understand priorities, and identify implications. By analyzing the data, the team can determine where operational logjams or challenges lie. This collaborative approach ensures that the entire organization participates in identifying and prioritizing areas of improvement, creating a sense of inclusion in the change process.


Breakthrough process. Step four is system-wide diagnosis. Figuring out what is it that needs to be addressed in any kind of change initiative. You have to focus first. You have to find out what are all the possibilities, what are all the alternative things that could be done, things that need to be done, things that must be done. And then how do you figure out which of those are the ones to be addressed? Okay, I’m assuming that you’ve linked your project to the organization’s strategic objectives. You’ve been preparing decision makers to think outside the box and get ready for these kinds of breakthrough suggestions, action suggestions. And you’ve identified and trained this internal team that we talked about before, and now you’re ready to shift down to diagnosing the situation, which is doing this system-wide analysis of what’s happening now. My favorite method is to use the OE team in this process. Remember, there are cross-functional multi level teams that are just full of ordinary people. They’re not professionals. They may come from sales or from IT or finance across the organization. It has a kind of representative feel to everybody. When they look at that team they’re led by or have at least one senior manager not at the top, but someone who is trusted in both directions by the top and the bottom of the organization, who’s visible on the team, usually in a co leadership role charged by the CEO. The CEO gives that team their mandate, so everyone on the team and outside the team realizes these people are to be taken seriously.


They’re doing something important on behalf of the organization, supported by the internal HR team and equipped by external people. That might be you watching the video now. This is my favorite method using them. It uses the OE team to go out in pairs, go out two by two, and they identify individual client groups. They become consultants with departments or teams or groups of people inside the organization. So if my colleague and I are paired and usually like to have people from different functions, we go out, and we might be consulting to this group in the IT department. They’ll be our clients through this whole process. So we bond with them in a certain way. We develop a relationship with them as we go through the process. You’ll see how that works later. We go with them first, to gather data, get their input on what it is from their point of view that needs to be addressed, what are the most important things affecting them and their operational performance? We then go back, and we go back with our OE colleagues. We come back together, and we collate all that information, we prioritize it, and then we go back to the clients again and say, this is what you said, this is what everybody else said. This is how your data compares with everybody else’s data. And this is what we’re going to do.


Then we’re doing what we call implication derivation. Let’s say it’s numbers. Let’s say you’ve gathered data in the form of a survey of some kind, and you have numbers or an assessment. Let’s say the number is 2.3. Well, 2.3 isn’t all that helpful. What does it mean? What does this number or this collection of numbers mean to us? What are the implications we need to derive or discover those implications for ourselves? And then finally, the last thing that we do with our client groups as consulting pairs is we recruit volunteers to be a part of the Breakthrough Action teams, which are going to go forward in the process to create action recommendations now. This is what we do with our client. First, we talk to the boss or the team leader, to make sure we have a good relationship with them. This is what we’re going to be doing. Do you have any special questions or concerns? So forth we get, we get the bosses okay. Team leaders okay. Then we work with the team and what we do is we might use a survey. We might use something like where they go through, and they check the boxes, or they make maybe it’s an organization survey that the company already uses. We’ll have a whole section on how to turn a survey into a very powerful intervention in the life of the organization. It might be an affinity diagram we’ll talk about in just a second, or some other form of data gathering in the survey that happens from the culture every year.


Usually HR departments will have a very powerful survey that’s done, but usually that data is kept close to maybe a small team in HR and maybe the executives. What I’m recommending I’ve done over and over again is I think it’s a missed opportunity to do it that way. You could take that same survey, use this breakthrough process or an action research model and turn the survey itself into a breakthrough process inside the organization. All the data is there. You just need to get the people involved in analyzing it, coming up with recommendations. Maybe it’s some other kind of assessment, like a team effectiveness or a conflict or an operational, maybe something with lean or something to do with operational logjams or efficiencies in some kind of process. Any, any kind of data will work. You feed it in here 1 to 1 interviews. I always like to do one on one interviews. Even if I’m using a survey I want to get, I want to get a sort of gut feel. I want to talk to real people and have them talk with me about what’s going on. You might be simple passive reports. What are the sales records for this year? What are the IT things? How many what’s what’s the churn? What are the turnarounds? Real numbers sometimes can be extremely important for later on when you measure whether it made a difference or not.


You might use something like the affinity diagram, which is one of my favorites. It’s where you put each person takes a bunch of yellow stickies, and they’ll, they’ll write one issue or problem or opportunity on, on a, on a yellow sticky. They get put up on a, on a table or on a wall, get organized with headers and so forth. There’s going to be a video on here about that. Just look up the affinity diagram. And that way very quickly you get everyone’s input in organizing the data. And then that’s what gets fed back to the team. This is a fabulous way to involve everyone in the organization. So when this process is over, virtually the entire organization has participated in some way in both identifying what needs to be done and has participated in the prioritization process. As you’ll see going forward. Now, what does the team do? They go back and then they come together. They get together with their colleagues, and all that data gets collated, organized, prioritized. Because you have data coming in from all these teams. It’s a mess, as you’ll see a little bit later. That’s the process of gathering the data. The next step now is to analyze the data and prioritize what the operational Logjams, love that quote from my friend Toor Dal. And that’s where we’re going next.


This insightful video delves into essential survival skills for navigating today’s workplace challenges. Covering skills seven to ten, it emphasizes the importance of developing courage to face challenges (symbolized by “tigers”), mastering cross-functional teamwork, adapting to rapid change, and finding purpose beyond routine tasks. The author encourages readers to view their work as contributing to a larger purpose, urging them to quit a mundane job and discover work that aligns with personal passions and makes a meaningful impact. With a focus on personal development, organizational growth, and effective teamwork, the video provides practical advice for thriving in the dynamic modern workplace.

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