HYCS #32 – DIY Assessments

HYCS #32 – DIY Assessments

If you’ve been taught to leave assessment design to the experts, you’re missing a powerful consulting tool.  Do-it-yourself assessments can make your consulting easier and more effective.

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Reading Time: 2.5 minutes

Assignment Time:  I know I keep saying this, but this will shave off multiple hours and loads of stress from any client engagement.  Try it.

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There’s nothing as grounding as a score, even if it’s made up.  Take the pain scale, known as the SUDS, (Subjective Units of Distress) rating.  In hospitals all over the world, doctors and nurses are asking people to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10 and making treatment decisions based on their answer.  It’s a number people make up on the spot, and it helps doctors how to treat their pain.

That’s the approach you want to take with a DIY assessment.

But you’re going to have to give something up to make DIY assessments work for you:  The Truth. 

Assessments produce data, and data tells you only where to dig for meaning, much like the “X” on the treasure map tells you where to dig for buried treasure.   Data isn’t the truth, it’s a trigger for a conversation about what the data means.  That’s always where the treasure is.   This is very freeing for the do-it-yourselfer.

Let’s take a project your client wants to set up and run – any project for any client in any industry.  When you conduct your entering meeting, you’ll have asked your client what’s most important to them, what success looks like, what are the critical success factors for the project.  Here’s a list that might come out of such a conversation:

To be considered a success, the project must:

  • Include all stakeholders
  • Employ two-way communication
  • Is on time
  • Stay within budget
  • Meet its objectives

To use this as an assessment, simply draw a line under each item and add a scale.  It can be like SUDS scale – rate this from 1-10, or it can be a Likert scale.  You’ve seen Likert scales.  They say Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A) Disagree (D) and Strongly Disagree (SD), like this:

1. We include all stakeholders


2.  We use 2-way communication


3.  The project is on-time


4.  The project is within budget


5.  We meet our objectives


After you finish creating this quickie DIY assessment, ask your client to how well the project is currently doing with each of these project elements.  You don’t need data, you need your client’s best guess.  Their best guess is all you need to have a conversation about each element and determine next steps.  And isn’t that what you’re after?

For example, if you don’t know who the stakeholders are, you’ll need to make that list.  There is your next step.  If you aren’t currently using 2-way communication, you’re in luck:  You just created the stakeholder list, which you’ll need to solve the 2-way communication problem.

The goal of the DIY assessment is to take the next small step in the most effortless way possible.

Your Assignment

In your next client conversation, create and use a quick assessment.

Here are the steps:

1. Make a list with your client.  It make be project elements, or team characteristics or a list of ground rules.

2.  Put a line under it and add the scale of your choosing (1-5, 1-10 or Likert).

3.  Have your client rate their project or team or typical meeting.

4. Plan how to close the gap between what you have and what you want.