Often as a Change Manager, the scope of my work is focused on implementing the change according to the Change Management Plan. As a contractor, I rarely am afforded the opportunity to assist with the analysis of the problem until the plan created by someone high up within the organization no longer seems feasible. Diagnostic Thinking is a very important to the success of any change implementation. According to Ranjay Gulati, speaker for the Harvard Business Review, Diagnostic Thinking is an essential quality of an effective leader. When diagnosing problems within the organization, it is important to look at the problem and taking the time to diagnose the problem correctly as opposed to just jumping straight to the solution that first comes to mind as the ideal solution. It is so common for leaders to just think they have the solution and implement without proper analysis of the problem.
The Monograph by Donald MacKinnon on the OSS Assessment Program, “How Assessment Centers Were Started in the United States,” depicts a scenario where diagnostic thinking was absent and leaders displayed more action-oriented decision making behavior. In search of people who would make good spies or good guerilla fighters, someone decided the most logical selection would be to recruit murders and gang members. As a result, the outcome was disastrous. The powers to be realized that a more diagnostic thinking process was needed and sought the assistance of Psychologist, similar to that of the psychological/psychiatric assessment used in the English War Office Selection Boards, to be set up for the OSS.
This was a step in the direction but still lacked the elements of diagnostic thinking. Once again, this “action oriented” mindset lead to a hasty and premature initiation of the assessment program. The program suffered because Psychologists were tasked with determining the type of person who would be best suited for the job without knowledge of what these jobs were. Without any analyses of these jobs, these Psychologists could not possibly know what they were assessing.
Being a retired military person, this really hit home. Unfortunately, the military continues to make decisions in haste and often lacks diagnostic thinking. This behavior is not just found in the military, but in civilian/commercial organizations also. I found this monograph by Donald Mackinnon to be a great example of what happens in the absence of diagnostic thinking.
Works CitedGulati, R. (2013, March 12). Diagnostic Thinking. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/video/2226699673001/diagnostic-thinking
MacKinnon, D. W. (2005). How Assessment Centers were Started in the United States. Retrieved from Development Dimension International (DDI) World : https://www.ddiworld.com/DDI/media/monographs/HowAssessmentCentersWereStarted_mg_ddi.pdf?ext=.pdf