QII and assessment exercises.

If you set aside time for QII issues, how would you use it for assessment? There are a variety of exercises that will help create and sustain your assessment culture:

  1. First, there’s the “SWOT” exercise, which stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.” Ask your employees or co-workers to think about these categories as they relate to your organization. Where do they see the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in your work and your organization? Have them write them down and then discuss them.

    Remember that there are no “right” and “wrong” answers – and that the leader simply notes the patterns of answers and ask if anyone wants to talk about any of them.

    Do this same exercise later – after time has passed. Are the answers the same? If they are, then you know the assessment work has not yet become part of your culture. You are not using it to make decisions and bring about changes.

  2. Here’s another exercise, which I call the “Headlines” exercise.

    Imagine in five years your organization is on the cover of a magazine. Which magazine is it? What is the article’s headline? What does the first paragraph say?

    “Headlines” is a pure planning backwards exercise. Discuss what it would take to make the headline a reality.

  3. Yet another assessment exercise is the Lifecycle analysis work of Susan Stevens’ book Nonprofit Lifecycles.

    Every organization goes through developmental stages the same way humans do. We don’t have smooth sailing through life, nor do organizations, and it’s comforting to understand there are going to be bumps in the road. So ask yourself, “Where are we as an organization?”

    It’s important to understand that, often, different areas within your organization can be simultaneously going through different stages of their lifecycle; your programs, for example, often reach maturity before your systems do. You may have great programs, but you may be relying heavily on volunteers, and even your board is helping stuff envelopes to get a mailing out.

    But at some point, the board must become established to do the work the board is meant to do (which is not stuffing envelopes!).

    So you do a little diagnosis about where you stand – and that’s QII time.

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If you are familiar with this workshop, and you are looking to refresh your memory, we think the following steps about the Rubric, which is the tool at the heart of this workshop, might be most useful to you: