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Stop ‘Failing’ Assessments

If I had a nickel for every time I heard; “How bad is it?” “How low did I score?”, I could retire to Aruba early. 

Too often assessment are seen as bad versus what they really should be about; Understanding.

It could be an understanding of behaviors, values, motivations, drivers, etc. The important thing to know is the intention is to capture an understanding for the individual or group. 

If we take a moment and think about what we need to understand something, it’s usually related to insights into the individual or team dynamics. It’s really the quality of the insights that drive the understanding that is key. 

There are a gazillion assessments out in the marketplace. I’ve always advocated that an assessment has to include TWO important attributes. 


You could spend 12 hours observing someone to capture some insight into their behaviors. That would be pretty time consuming and expensive. If we can bring an assessment with the scientific investment in validation and bias stripping that can get us to 80-99 percent accurate in 6 minutes, that adds value. 


Not everyone is an organizational scientist or clinical physiologist. It’s important that there is a framework can help us capture the insights in an easily understood framework to put the insights into action and understanding for all.

I’ve always focused on what we are trying to understand, what insights will help us understand and THEN what assessment tool would best serve that intention.

Over the years I’ve observed many practitioners and organizations fall in love with a tool and it can become weaponized. I’ve never felt that was the initial intention. We just get our favorite hammer and every problem looks like a nail. 

Focus on what you are trying to understand first and then evaluate the best approach and tool to get there. 

Real failure is not getting to the understanding that serves the individual or organization in the long run.

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