Stage 2.4  Diagnostic Inventory


In Stage 2 we have been talking about the kinds of questions that go into a good diagnosis. In this section we would like to get a little more concrete in suggesting how you might build an inventory of the salient diagnostic facts about your client. This should help you to be as systematic and specific as you can be in your diagnostic strategy. At a minimum there are five questions that should always be asked and answered as part of a good diagnostic inventory:

  • WHAT ARE THE SYSTEM'S GOALS?
  • IS THERE AN ADEQUATE STRUCTURE FOR ACHIEVING THESE GOALS?
  • IS THERE OPENNESS IN COMMUNICATIONS?
  • IS THERE THE INTERNAL CAPACITY TO ACHIEVE STATED GOALS?
  • ARE MEMBERS REWARDED FOR WORKING TOWARDS STATED GOALS?


These five questions can form the core of an inventory. Each question might be written at the top of a sheet of paper and underneath could be listed the related problems and opportunities which are emerging in the client system you are working with. Each question defines an area of  inquiry within which several additional questions should be examined as suggested below.

Question 1: What are the system's goals?

  1. Have leaders & members openly discussed what goals should be?
  2. Are the goals clear to both the leaders and members?
  3. Is there consensus on goals?
  4. Are members fully satisfied that the stated goals are adequate?
  5. Are goals flexible? Can they change with times and circumstances?


 Question 2: Is there an adequate structure for achieving these goals?

  1. Is there an adequate division of labot1
  2. Do members have a clear understanding of what they are supposed to be doing in the system (job/role clarity: differentiation)?
  3. Do the different jobs and roles fit together as elements of a system for achieving goals (integration)?
  4. Are some of the elements missing that are necessary to make the client community work as a system?
  5. Are there weak elements (e.g. overloaded, underused, ineffective)
  6. Are elements adequately coordinated (intra-system in the linkage)?
  7. Is the structure flexible? Can it be changed to meet new conditions


Question 3: Is there openness in communication?

  1. Are major subgroups within the system (teachers, admini­strators, parents, students) able to talk to one another? Can they express their feelings and exchange ideas freely back and forth?
  2. Are members of the system open to new ideas from within? Do they actively seek such ideas?
  3. Are they open to new ideas from outside (e.g., universi­ties, outside consultants and specialists, people from other systems which have similar problems or have found interesting solutions)? Do they actively seek these outside sources?


 Question 4: Do they have the necessary capacities?

  1. Does the system have (or can it muster) the needed resources in: people? time? money? materials? facilities?
  2. Does the staff have the necessary skills? Can the system train their own people? Can they recruit the kind of people they need for a successful change effort?


Question 5: Does system reward members for working toward stated goals?

  1. Are workers at the lower levels rewarded: for innovating? for learning? for contributing to learning process? for working to improve the system?
  2. Are the administrators rewarded: for innovating? for being open to  lower levels?
  3. Are the rewards that people get reliable?
  4. Do rewards that people get come soon enough to connect to their behavior?
  5. Are the rewards that motivate individuals compatible with and supportive of the overall goals of the system?


 With a list of questions such as these, you can make a diagnostic inventory that should be of help to you and your client throughout the change process. It is not important that your list include all these questions, but it is important that you make some effort to identify and record what seem to be salient facts in each of these five general areas so that you can have a profile of the system as a whole in addition to a list of specific "problems." It is only when you have such a profile that you will be able to start making judgments about priorities for change effort. Later this inventory should also serve you and your client as a base line against which progress can be measured.