The PD can assess the general “health” of an organization’s culture, assess readiness for change, reveal the true level of “buy-in” for a new direction, assess degree of alignment of purpose or values among departments/levels, and commitment.
Perhaps you’re considering a large scale change project and need to know whether everyone is really on board and committed to the project. Maybe you’re in the midst of a project, and it’s not going as well as you would expect – people have indicated they understand and agree with the vision, but they just aren’t performing, and you need to better understand what’s going on. You may be interested in better understanding the overall health of your organizational culture, or want to know if there are any potential threats in the culture that haven’t surfaced yet.
You can get some helpful information by sending out questionnaires and surveys, or by interviewing a sample of employees. You can just ask people what’s going on. You will likely get some good, useful information through any of these means. And it’s never the whole truth. Questionnaire and interview responses can be influenced by what people think you want to hear, or more subtly, by what people think is consistent with the culture or how they see themselves. The PD bypasses the part of the mind that is subject to such response bias, and uncovers perceptions and understanding that are unconsciously (or consciously) hidden.
The PD can help you get a much deeper understanding of what’s going on. The PD taps gets below the surface of conscious awareness, giving you a much more complete picture of the attitudes and perceptions people have about the issues you choose to assess. These deeper attitudes are important when it comes to anticipating or better understanding behavior. Since the attitudes and employee involvement and commitment as expressed verbally are never the whole story, the PD is a powerful tool. Bypassing the verbal, and taping into the consciously or unconsciously hidden attitudes and perceptions that affect behavior, the PD can uncover deeply held attitudes and perceptions that people are often unaware of even themselves.
Check out What can it do? to find out specific ways the PD can help with your organization’s culture.