Regular diagnostics, or “health checks”, enable charities and social enterprises to best understand the issues and factors that affect them as a whole. Diagnostics both help organisations to identify strategic or functional areas that need attention or are working well; and also enable them to take appropriate steps to resolve issues and share best practice with other parts of the organisation.
Diagnostics should not be seen as costly or unessential exercises – in fact, they can considerably contribute to an organisation’s investment readiness, with potential benefits such as cost savings, increased organisational efficiencies, improvements to the operating model, clearer strategic focus, and a more cohesive approach to change initiatives and impact management.
There are a number of different ways to perform a diagnostic, and they can have varying degrees of intensity – from less complex initiatives like senior management meetings, to in depth staff engagement initiatives. However, an external facilitator may be required to carry out more extensive diagnostics. Below is a simplified self-diagnostic, designed to provide organisations with a tool to identify symptoms of under-performance, likely root causes, and potential solutions.
It is important to note that simply performing a diagnostic is not enough to improve investment readiness and organisational efficiency – results from the diagnostic need to be thoroughly embedded into the organisation’s operating model. The diagnostic should serve as a platform to identify an area for improvement and, to be successful, an appropriate action plan needs to be designed and implemented. Below is a case study of how a diagnostic supported a charity in the implementation of a training initiative.
- Aleron worked with a large UK-wide services charity to perform a diagnostic on the skills and capabilities of operational management
- The organisation had just changed its strategic priorities to focus more on local needs, resulting in a shift of role and responsibilities of operational managers
- Aleron facilitated group problem solving sessions at UK executive level to determine areas of weakness and to brainstorm which skills operational managers would require in their redefined role
- Relationship management was identified as a key priority. Interviews, focus groups and surveys were conducted with managers to identify specific areas of need for learning & development
- Aleron developed a customised toolkit with practical, user-friendly tools, which has been successfully rolled out UK-wide to prepare managers for the new focus of their role
- Training initiatives were designed to support the implementation of the toolkit, including recorded panel discussions with external experts, live Q&A sessions and a training roadshow
- The organisation has also now included a diagnosis phase at each organisational level in advance of their annual planning process, to ensure that plans address key internal and external priorities