The Diagnostic Phase of the OD cycle provides the data and information with which decisions can be made in regard to moving the organization forward. It is a full exploration and investigation into the historical context of the organization and what is happening in the present circumstance. In many ways the OD practitioner takes on the role of an organizational detective seeking to find not only the answers but also the right questions to ask. It is through the diagnostic process that the OD practitioner will develop a deep appreciation of the organizational situation, developing knowledge of the organizational capability; culture and strengths, which can be developed in order, move the organization forward.
Both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods can be employed with each method having disadvantages and ad- vantages depending on what needs to be achieved. Working with hard data such as absence and turnover data, it is possible to examine trends and hot spots within the organizational system. Soft data can be collected through action research, interviews, and direct observation and can be designed to engage and connect with the organization. Examining mental models, open communication, culture, social constructs, and sense making are the key components of the diagnostic process. The output from the Diagnostic Phase is a comprehensive report of what change, development, and transformation are required. In addition to data gathering, the Diagnostic Phase is also a disturbance process designed to drive dissatisfaction with the current reality and help participants to begin thinking about possible futures. The diagnosis fundamentally examines the current functioning of the organization, identifying key issues and information necessary to input into the intervention design process. Key questions to be addressed during that the Diagnostic Phase are
What data are required to develop a deep understanding of the organization and provide the basis for decision making and action planning for the OD program?
What data collection methods and processes are most appropriate in the organizational context?
What political context and power controls will shape the diagnostic process?
What similarities and differences exist between individuals, teams, and functions in regard to their perception of the organizational reality?
What time and people resources are required to collect and analyze the data and is the organization willing to commit this resource to the process?
Who has responsibility and ownership of the data collected?
Who has the responsibility to complete the analysis of the data, and do they have the requisite skills to do so?
Who needs to have access to the feedback report from the diagnostic interventions?
What are the most critical issues identified, what are the symptoms of the system, and what are the causes?
Based on the diagnostic report, what revisions are required to the proposed OD program?