Problem Defining and the Consulting/Intervention Process

by Ralph Kilmann, Ian Mitroff



The article is an attempt made to highlight a key aspect of the intervention/consulting process which has been largely overlooked in the literature and practice in the area, the issue of defining the organization's problems as correctly as possible before extensive efforts are applied to designing and implementing various change programs. By conceptualizing the consulting process more explicitly in terms of problem defining in addition to problem solving suggests that the former should be the first priority of a consultant and that the latter should utilize the expertise of the consultant only when it fits with the appropriately defined problem. A number of guidelines have been given which seek to minimize or at least manage the Type III error, solving the wrong problem instead of the right problem, or alternatively, solving the least important problems given tie limited resources of the organization. Also, included was an indication of how different group compositions could aid in developing several very different problem definitions to be defined, debated and synthesized across different groups. While it was suggested that a number of different individuals should be included in the problem definition process, perhaps it should be evident why a single consultant can be expected to be considerably less effective than a team of consultants.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

Learn more
Follow Us