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Management: Diagnosis. Identifying essential gaps in your organization
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Identifying essential gaps in your organization

By Marwan Emile Faddoul,Managing Partner NFG Consulting LLC

If we can identify our health issues on our own, we surely do not need a doctor to diagnose us. We rely on doctors simply because they have the experience and knowledge to detect the problem.. Good doctors treat many cases and see things from a different perspective.

As management consultants, we play exactly the same role as doctors, even though our patients are a bit different. We solve issues within an organisation, a sector or an industry. Likewise, before implementing any solution, we diagnose, we dig deep to find the main issue of the problem.  As John Dewey once said: “a problem well put is half solved”


Several steps are usually implemented to diagnose a company and detect the main obstacles that prevent it from growing and moving forward. The key objective is to dissect and collect the right information. This data is gathered from within the company and from outside.

Internally, we first sit with the top management, see the big picture and get to know about the company’s long and short term objectives. We focus on what provides value to the company, mostly its technical aspect. Then we concentrate on what generates revenue in the company, here we are talking about its sales and marketing. After that we study the company’s support functions, mainly its human resources department and its financial situation.

Second, and before meeting with any internal party, we build our own framework based on the data already collected from the top management. Here we create the ideal structure and process for the company we are diagnosing. This framework will be used as a guideline and road map to collect the needed data and fill the missing pieces of our puzzle.

Third, we start zooming in and meeting with the heads of each department to get a better understanding of his or her department and how these functions help the company as a whole to reach its objective.

Finally, we move to the staff level. Firstly, we evaluate each employee’s job description. Secondly, we investigate the obstacles that they are facing on a personal level, on a department level and on a company level. This investigation can be done via questionnaires or during one on one interviews. In the end, we review the solutions that they recommend to overcome these obstacles, see if they are implementing these solutions, and if so, what is preventing them from moving forward. In some cases we can even go further and implement a one day open-ended observation of people and the work setting. This observation session can bring to the table rich data on difficult-to-measure topics, for example: emergent behaviour and culture.

Externally, we sit with key entities that work directly with the company. These entities may include agents, suppliers, competitors and of course customers.

WBT201510_150_Management__003For the agents and suppliers, it is important to know how these entities are dealing with the company, what the rules and regulations they work on. In addition, it is essential to get their feedback on how the company is running its operation and what they expect from it for the coming year.

When talking about competitors, we need to understand that these are the entities that consider the company a threat to their business. Therefore knowing from their perspective the positive and negative points can help us improve the company’s weaknesses and maintain its strength. Competitors can also provide many incites on customer behaviour and market trends.

Last, but not least, we look at customers, the main source of income to any company. Collecting data from customers during the diagnosis process helps us identify loopholes in the company’s system and process. The right questions that should be directed at customers include: what they think about the pros and cons of the company’s products and services? What are their recommendations on how to improve these products and services? Here customers can give enormous help simply because on the one hand they are the one benefiting from these products to solve their daily problems. On the other hand, when presenting a bid to purchase any product or service, they meet with many companies and receive many offers. This helps them know more about what is in the market and what is best for them. Lastly, we want customers to describe an incident that happened between the customer and the company and see how the company reacted to resolve this matter.

In conclusion, we end up studying the company from three internal perspectives: the top management, the middle management and the staff level. Also, we study the company from three external perspectives: suppliers or agents, customers and competitors.

WBT201510_150_Management__001By doing so we can detect the symptoms of the problems and its root causes. Eventually, we can suggest solutions to bypass these obstacles and reach the company’s objective.

Before applying any solution, we sit with the management team and sometimes the head of departments to present the outcome of our diagnosis as well as our recommendations for improvement. Here, we care to gather any comments or suggestions regarding our work, in order to finalise our plan and get everyone’s approval. Last, but not least, we present our plan to the entire company and bring everyone on board to work and collaborate with us to reach positive results.

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