This figure simply serves as a reminder of the different ways in which to start a diagnostic analysis. They are all equally legitimate, and all need to enter our thinking as we get to understand what is really going on.

There is a philosophy of the change process which asserts that the best way to help any system is just to help them clarify what their goals are. Once they have done that they can find their own way to solutions. This philosophy builds on the psychotherapeutic view prevalent in the latter part of the twentieth century that a troubled patient could be brought back to health through a better insight as to what their problems are and where and how they originated. There is undoubtedly some truth to this view, because humans and human system always have an enormous depth of resources that mostly remain untapped, even throughout life.

However, diagnostic agents need not define their role so narrowly.  In The Guide we want to lay out the diagnostic process as one element of a larger process. The seven sub-stages discussed under Stage 2 should provide many ideas about how this type of change agent might function, preferably in concert with other change agents serving other parts of the cycle.

The Change Agent As Diagnostic Advisor

The most basic question any change agent might ask is: "What are these people or this group trying to do?"

In other words, what are their goals?

  • Are there many goals?
  • Is there agreement on goals?
  • Is there an order to the goals?
    • What is most important?
    • What is most immediate or urgent?
    • Is there a relationship among goals?


But we know from what has been said under Stage 2 that it isn’t  that simple. The articulated 'goals' may not be the real goals, and the goals of some may not be the gals of others. The diagnostic change agent helps a system sort through this morass to gain clarity and thus move forward, knowing better what direction it should be headed in.

The diagnostic change agent must be able to think about the system in many different ways because there are many different ways to think about what a system really is, as suggested by the following figure, which recaps previous analyses provided on this web site. Most immediately past, we considered the RELATER role, wherein we viewed the system as layers of people in a quasi-hierarchy. Earlier, under the “What is change?” section, we also viewed the system as a connected series of compartments, each with its own barriers and points.  In Stage 2.3 we also provided a functional way to describe any system as a connected and coordinated sequence of inputs, throughputs, and outputs.