Five Questions to Diagnose Organizational Needs

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As a consultant, a lot of my time is spent diagnosing matters related to organizational success. Sometimes as I listen, I discover themes about challenges that need to be addressed. At other times, I hear people provide insightful ideas about organizational opportunities. My goal is to help organizations clarify their needs and then help them act on them.

However, this process should not only be the domain of consultants. No matter who you are, you must learn to diagnose organizational gaps and opportunities. I have discovered five useful questions which can help you do this. Michael Watkins suggests that leaders should use them when they begin working at a new organization. However, I think they are questions which can be helpful to ask even if you are not new. Here they are;

  1. What are the biggest challenges the organization is facing (or will face in the near future)?
  2. Why is the organization facing (or going to face) these challenges?
  3. What are the most promising unexploited opportunities for growth?
  4. What would need to happen for the organization to exploit the potential of these opportunities?
  5. If you were me, what would you focus attention on?

In one of my recent blogs, Mr. Blanchard commented, “Many leaders are scratching their heads in the eventual decline phase of organizational life without a plan to launch a new service or product” (see Assessing Organizational Opportunities). This astute assessment summarizes the demise of many organizations! The five questions above are simply one way to overcome this problem.

But what about you? What questions have you found helpful in diagnosing the needs of your organization?


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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

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