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(October 04, 2004) We've been struggling to arrive at a working definition of "assessment".

For our money, here is a definition that works:

"Assessment is the measurement of the congruence between an organization's intention and its subcomponent's ability to execute."

That definition points out a number of key things about Assessment:
  1. Assessment isn't decision making. It involves the development of data for decision makers. It is best understood as a gap analysis.
  2. Assessment is most effective when used systematically. That is, meaningful results are best delivered in the context of a clearly defined and measured organization.
  3. It can, however, be used in a naive way with some positive results (the Myers Briggs test is a good example of this.)
  4. Like all measurement systems, assessment works best when used as a continuous tool rather than as a static (or Gateway) device.
In addition, It is very clear that the tools used to assess an individual or organization cluster in several areas:
  1. Suitability
    1. Physical Characteristics
    2. Personality Traits, Tendencies and Aptitudes
  2. Development (Trainable Attributes)
    1. Hard Skills
    2. Soft Skills
  3. Optimization
    1. Social Dynamics
    2. Fit
It is easy to imagine this as a pyramid, similar to Maslow's Hierarchy:

     5. - Social Dynamics
     4. - Soft Skills
     3. - Hard Skills
     2. - Personality
     1. - Physical Characteristics

Fit, of course, is an incremental question that changes in scope and intensity as an employee migrates from outside the organization towards its strategic core. You don't fit if you flunk the drug test. You don't fit if you're personality type X. You don't fit if you are not a lawyer. You don't fit if you can't work in teams. You don't fit if you cant master the political environment.

Some technical skills, most soft skills and all social dynamics skills are shaped by the culture of the organization. In other words, "fit", as an issue, increases in intensity the closer an employee gets to the strategic core of the business. In that relatively self-contained universe, the skills and techniques required for success are organization specific.

- John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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         © TwoColorHat.
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