Organizational learning demands conversation, especially when the
stakes are large and strategic. However, people often do not
adequately deal with the most important questions, such as:
- What steps can I take to ensure that my conversation is the
- How do I become more confident in my actions?
Action Assessment is a process that ensures the right people come
together to have the right conversation, in the right way, using
the right kind of data. It consists of three activities:
contracting, data gathering, and action planning.
During the contracting phase, the consultants and the client
determine what they will study, what questions they need to ask,
and who will serve on the team that will support and monitor the
Together, they determine the timeline of the project, who they
should interview, and who will take part in the decision-making
body creating the action plan.
During data gathering, the consultants conduct interviews. They
capture people's stories, and then use Systems Thinking archetypes
- models of patterns - to create visual models. The average report
that results from this process reveals themes supported by verbatim
quotes - which allows the organizational leaders to hear
interviewees' own words. The report also includes questions
designed to enrich the conversation, such as:
- If X is true, then what are the implications for Y?
- If X is not important, why isn't it?
- Does the importance of X depend on where one is located within
the organizational structure?
The real assessment happens during the action-planning session,
when decision makers sit down and collectively reconstruct their
own analysis. They test, question, and add to what has been
presented in a way that helps them design a plan of change with
greater confidence than if they worked without proper facilitation.
This can take anywhere from one to three days, depending on the
scope and needs of the client. The groups should create a concise
written record, highlighting major themes, posing vital questions,
and documenting the commitment to the actions to which they agreed.
Distribute the resulting document within two weeks. And, depending
on the situation, one can use follow-up assessments or progress
forums to supplement this initial assessment.