Diagnosis is a central activity in managing change. This chapter begins by discussing the main principles associated with conducting a diagnosis. It then identifies two different orientations in diagnosing change. The first is the ‘problem-centric’ model, which is based on a conscious effort to identify the symptoms and causes of the presenting issues, such as how to enhance communication and/or how to reduce levels of formalization. The problem-centric model of diagnosing change is based on a clear-cut emphasis on the search for symptoms. It has always been popular and many change agents and external consultants still use it. The problem-centric model leads to easily definable and measurable outcomes. Success is visible when that action or intervention is complete. The second is the ‘dialogic’ model, which is based on creating occasions for dialogue in an attempt to capitalize and build on what has already been achieved. In line with this model, symptoms are viewed as having multiple causes, some of which are not fully evident from the outset. We diagnose but we also do our best not to assign or put the blame on any cause; thus, our emphasis is on seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. To that extent, it requires bringing positive storying of success to the fore and getting everyone involved to listen to each other’s stories in order to identify the changes needed for moving forward. The values that underlie each of these orientations will also be discussed.
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