Labour opposition leader Ed Milliband says the UK needs a proper, deep analysis into the real causes of the recent riots. But Prime Minister David Cameron says the UK knows the causes and all that is needed now is rapid action and intervention to prevent recurrence. Milliband responds to this by saying that this means Cameron’s intervention will simply be a knee-jerk reaction based on a superficial analysis of the situation, and which will result in the wrong intervention and not cure the rioting.
As diagnostic analysts, we see this situation almost daily in complex organisations. We hear about their problems finding the right employees, and how they spend a fortune on development, engagement and retention, but without the results they were hoping for. But when we offer to perform a formal diagnostic to identify the root causes of the problem, there is inevitably a Cameron in the company who tells us the answer is obvious and then proceeds with an intervention. Nine times out of ten, we’re back there within two years.
It is true that in non-complex organisations, the causes of problems are indeed usually easy to identify. But in large, global, multi-cultural situations, they are not.
Why do people fear diagnostic analysis? Some possible reasons:
1. They cost money, it is true. But they are usually cheaper than applying the wrong intervention.
2. Some people get systematic problem analysis; others don’t. I notice this often based on the looks of awe that I get when explaining what to me seems like a simple systematic approach to, for example, identifying the causes of employee turnover. I often wonder why the client didn’t think of it themselves, but the fact is that many people do not think this way and find it difficult. I suppose it’s good because that creates opportunities for me.
Of course sometimes even formal diagnostics can get it wrong, but one thing is for sure: they get it wrong less often and cost much less than superficial guesses about the underlying causes.
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