The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Grounding a conversation

A few days ago I had the opportunity to exchange with Andy Robbins. We once met online in Seth Godin’s The Marketing Seminar and have since then been regularly meeting using visual conference tool.

Both of us work to develop leaders and teams and enjoy a lot to discuss our tools, methods, and ideas. This time it was Andy who was sharing ideas on how to ground an assessment. He shared four simple rules to do so:

1)     For which sake are we making this assessment?

It’s only if we know the context of the assessment or why it is made that we enable ourselves to take action on the assessment. But knowing the action it is for also helps to frame where the assessment is useful.

2)     What are we assessing?

Knowing why we are making an assessment doesn’t tell us what we are assessing, but it’s essential to be clear about what it is that we are assessing. Knowing what also tells us what is not assessed and thus where the assessment can be applied.

3)     What standards of measurement exist are we assessing?

The thing is, that people who use different standards can’t come to the same assessment. It thus helps to know the standards used for the assessment which is being made and to verify if they are shared.

4)     What evidence exists?

An assessment being made is there to serve action. It is also an opinion or judgment which is being made to serve that action. Consequently grounding that assessment is also there to make sure it stands on valid ground. That is what evidence will do. They are assertions about the past that help to confirm the assessment being made. Evidence server to build credibility for that assessment.

Other elements adding to the credibility will be to perceive it as limited by the existing timeframe, it’s not valid beyond the moment it has been made as new evidence can appear. Another factor helping to build credibility is the authority of the speaker. If he is someone who is known for his expertise and credibility his voice will add to the impact of the assessment.


Using these four key factors to ground an assessment will immediately have an impact on the way the conversation is led.


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