Changing the Assessment Business – New Stories!

Tom GibbonsChange, Learning, Organization Development, Preference Assessments1 Comment

TMS Americas

Last year we wrote a series of posts focused on changing the assessment business with the last one sharing some real examples of those changes.  You can see that post here.  This post takes one of those stories and adds another chapter, 9 months later.

We designed an internal accreditation with US Cellular modeling a process design (extended use of the TMP material within real business contexts) last year and in the post above we briefly share that experience.  Just last week we were onsite again with US Cellular for a 2 day session as part of another accreditation initiative with a new group of people; colleagues of the group from last year.

On day 2 of this session we had a ‘colleagues forum’ where 4 people from last year’s group shared their experiences in using the TMP HUB.  For us, it was the highlight of the session.  Stories were told of effective process designs where these HR Business Partners used the TMP material over extended time frames to support their work with the groups they support in the organization.  In using the TMP material these 4 people were consultants, not trainers and the way they spoke of their work in using the TMP material illustrated a level of professionalism and business focus that would fit well into the resume of any seasoned business consultant.

Our posts last year on this topic were about a need to change how assessments like the TMP are typically used within organizations.  What was most interesting about the stories we heard was that this change we talk about was not a change or a problem at all, it is simply the way they use the TMP HUB material.

We will be doing a few more posts of the details of process design using the TMP HUB but this post is more about our learning about this change we talk about in light of the stories we heard:

  • Where there is no history, there is no change needed.  Sounds a wee bit obvious but over the past few years since we moved exclusively to e-profiles and profile HUBS we have spent a lot of time talking with people about using these new products and resources differently.  Just a few months ago we put together a short video for our colleagues in Australia about changes in assessment use for their TMS Live conference that was about this change.  Where there is a history of traditional assessment use people are worried about hard copy profiles, immediate delivery of profiles to end users, sharing data too soon, pre work, post work, having enough time for the ‘event’ since that’s all they have, analyzing profile data ‘correctly’, etc, etc.  Without a pattern of this traditional use, the stories we heard contained almost none of these concerns, and when you really think about it, those concerns listed above are a design problem, not a product or learner problem and those concerns also add very little to the value someone can add using an assessment.
  • Be the change you want to see.  I think it was Ghandi that is credited with this quote and you’ve likely heard it.  Not so easy to do though.  Our journey in changing the assessment business has caused us to pretty much completely redesign our accreditation process and in many ways, our business and this has not been easy.  We had history; lots of it, and some of the changes we have made, that in the stories we heard seemed so easy, seemed like seriously risky leaps of faith at the time.
  • Be ok with not being a star!  As we listened to these stories we heard very little about ‘us’.  At some level this kind of sucked, since it’s nice to be a star; it feels good!  But these stories were about the business and how these people were using the TMP material to make improvements.  They illustrated that ‘leap of ownership’ that we say we want in our development initiatives and then constrain by our very own star power.  Assessment practitioners are primarily designers of opportunities to interact and our involvement in those interactions cannot be more important than the owners of the contexts in which those interactions are occurring.  We fade into the background and that is what should happen.
  • Events are enticing.  Event designs sustain pretty much all that we think is problematic with assessment use.  However, this only occurs when the event is all you have.  When an event is part of a process design, you can revel in it, make it amazing and use all your expertise, technique, and experience to its fullest.  And the best part of this is that you don’t have to burden the event with the expectation that everything has to happen in it!  You don’t need ‘takeaways’ for every piece of content, everyone doesn’t need to understand right away, and you as facilitator don’t have to be perfect.  In a process design, the event can be way more awesome than if that is all you have.

So, a few things we learned; good things we think.  We’ll be posting more on this topic over the next while and would like your stories too.  Post here as a response or connect in with us and perhaps you can do a guest post on our blog…

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