In our six stage decision process the decision framing or situation diagnosis stage is one that is easily stepped through too quickly. A move that can be disastrous. A recent client experience highlighted for them, and me, the importance of this stage.
Working on the strategy with an experienced management team, we were discussing how new technology companies were stepping in and stealing clients despite the fact that the organisation had built up a relationship with the prospects. We drew up a value chain for customers and a value chain for the organisation and highlighted how these new technology businesses were intervening in the relationship and value chain. In effect stealing the organisation’s lunch.
Having drawn up the description of the situation, one of the directors turned to the director whose areas it was and asked, “So what solution do you have?”
At this point I stepped in. “Whoa! I said. Just a minute. We are leaping from awareness to solution. We haven’t yet diagnosed the problem, the underlying problems and agreed on a diagnosis.”
OK, they agreed, let’s look at what the problem could be.
Twenty minutes later we had a diagram with nine different potential diagnoses of the situation. This ranged from various customer perceptions, to the differences in the technology company’s business models to the range of product offerings that the company had available.
In fact it was clear that the problem was a multi-faceted one, with probably not one single solution. It would had to be attacked on several fronts. Also it was clear that there was more information we needed to know before a clear diagnosis and course of action could be thought about in some of the aspects of the diagnosis.
The framing or diagnosis stage of a decision if one that cannot be rushed. It is vital to identify the implicit frames that people are placing around their conversations and ideas to ensure that the team do not head into decision-making and taking (or even decision action) with a mixed and confused diagnosis. Otherwise there won’t be effective action.