The last step in the discovery phase is a diagnosis of the current system. Unfortunately, traditional organization systems assessments often focus solely on the technical effectiveness of the system. These assessments often fail to ask how the users and stakeholders experience the system. For example, many systems are designed to produce high-quality products and services at a reasonable cost. This somewhat technical approach often fails to assess the human dimensions of the system, including convenience for the users, creativity and innovation, and empowerment.
This lack of human-centered design often results in unintended consequences such as wasted time, demotivation, and reduce productivity. For example, inconvenient processes waste valuable employee time reducing productivity and increasing costs. Inconvenient processes send the message to the employees that their time isn’t valuable to the organization. Convenient systems are easier to implement and increase the likelihood system deployment will be successful and sustainable.
Current System Description
It is very difficult to diagnose an existing system until the details and design of the system are made explicit. Participants describe the key characteristics of the existing system in sufficient detail to provide a common understanding for the diagnosis. There are two methods commonly used to make a system description explicit — a visual flowchart or concept diagram and a table detailing the specifics of the individual components in the diagram.
The challenge here is to stay out of the weeds. Design teams often lose their energy when they spend too much time in the details of an organization system that is not previously well-defined. A helicopter view of the main components of the management system provides the system perspective and keeps the design team’s energy high. The intent of this step is to capture the existing process without spending a lot of time if the existing process is not currently documented. Once explicit, the design team can assess how well the current design addresses the key criteria.
To assess the current system design and identify strengths and opportunities for improvement, the design team answers seven questions.
- How well does the current system fulfill the purposes and requirements identified in Discovery step 1?
- How consistent is the current design with the nature of the system identified in Discovery step 2?
- How consistent is the current design with the relevant theories and concepts identified in Discovery step 3?
- How does the design compare to the inspiring examples identified in Discovery step 4?
- How well does the current design fit and support the unique context of the organization identified in Discovery step 5?
- How does the current design reflect the design principles identified in Discovery step 6?
- How well is the current design integrated with the other related management systems identified in Discovery step 7?
The discovery phase should provide a springboard into the creative phase, but the diagnosis step can undermine the amount of spring the team gets going into the design phase. After spending so much time using their critical thinking skills during the diagnosis step, many design teams have difficulty making the shift to the creative activities of design and development.
- Understand the current system design.
- Identify the user’s perceptions of the system effectiveness and convenience.
- Identify the strengths and opportunities for improvement (technical and human).
- Identify the maturity level of the system.
Get Started On Your Design Project Today
Get Your Free Design eBook
The Design Framework for Organization Architects (66 page PDF eBook) is free when you Sign up for a Free Studio Membership. Also, you’ll have access to a FREE DIY eCourse and other Free eBooks for organization architects. Your privacy is secure, and we promise never to sell or give your information to anyone, ever!