Analysis but not Paralysis

Over the holidays, I (Sharon) read an eclectic collection of books – from Storytelling in Organisations, to Design philosophy, to Evidence based Management, to the McKinsey approach to consulting, to Reframing Organisations and the First 90 Days for new leaders.

One thread that runs through a lot of these books is effective analysis – how to make sure we are analyzing the situation effectively and how to ensure we are acting on facts and evidence where possible – but not taking so much time in analysis that the time for action passes us by. Another thread is synthesis – how to make sure that we connect things so that we can see how the whole is related.

Michael Watkins, in The First 90 Days, suggests that new leaders need to be able to quickly diagnose what type of a situation they are walking into and I think this is equally true for a consultant (internal or external). I liked his classification of business situations into four types (I have changed his wording slightly):

Start up – new business / area needing some structure and processes;

Continuation – a successful team / area who need to be encouraged and challenged to improve their level of performance;

Realignment – a team or area in potential trouble who need to be convinced that change is necessary;

Turnaround – a team or area in actual trouble and needing urgent action, including painful personnel, process or product changes.

A few minutes spent asking ourselves “what assumptions am I making about this team / area and what evidence do I have to validate my assumptions?” can change how we approach clients and teams and can impact the outcome. Read on for more to find out how I applied the concepts and check out the book at Amazon or Dymocks.

In 2006 I worked with a board, whom I expected to be in a Continuation situation, but most members were new and their situation was more like a Start Up, especially in relation to strategic planning and follow-up processes. If I had asked a few more questions of my contact, I would have found out the extra information and approached the situation slightly differently. As it was, the sitation was a bit uncomfortable for me in the first session as I expected too much, but by session two I had taken the starting point of the group into consideration and was ready to discuss with them some processes to support them in their follow-up.

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