The purpose of self-assessment is to determine where you are on your ability to solve difficult complex system social problems, so you can improve your weaknesses and take advantage of your strengths. Our approach to helping you assess where you are arises from this key principle:
The more difficult the problem, the better
the process used to solve it must be.
Solving super tough problems requires a long list of skills. The business world has discovered that the top organizational skill, the one that makes the biggest difference, is your overall problem solving process. Your process is your top tool. It sits at the top of you hierarchy of tools. All other tools are part of your process, since each step in the process requires the appropriate tools. Examples of other tools are fund raising, marketing, motivating staff and volunteers, general management skills, grassroots activism strategies, root cause analysis, and model based analysis.
A process is a reusable series of steps and related practices to achieve a goal. All people and organizations have goals and use a single overall process to achieve their goals. That process may have subprocesses, tools, optional steps, etc. The important thing to grasp is we are all process driven problem solvers, so our top tool is process driven problem solving.
To the right is the Process Maturity Assessment from the Analytical Activism book. Click on it for the page from the book, which is suitable for printing. (Or you may prefer this larger image.) Note the blank rows at the bottom for measuring the maturity of your own and similar organizations, or where you hope to be 2, 5, or 10 years from now.
The table should illustrate what process maturity is all about. In 2006 ten representative organizations were selected. Each was rated on the 11 key process elements shown. The elements were weighted since they are not equally important. The result gives a rough relative measure of where each organization is strong and weak.
Most organizations are strong in Classic Activism, but since that has low weights it doesn't help their total process maturity rating much. What does is the ratings for Analytical Activism. All this is explained in the chapter the table is from, which runs 64 pages. It's the longest chapter in the book because it's the most important.
Study the An Assessment of Problem Difficulty PDF and An Assessment of Process Maturity PDF chapters. Then fill in a row for where your organization is now. This will take some time. Be honest. You'll know you're doing a good job if the results explain where you've been having difficulties, as the chapters explain.
It will not be long before you need to improve the rating method. Go right ahead. That's a good sign. It means you are becoming process centric and are advancing up the ladder of process maturity. At the top of the ladder you are no longer that concerned about solving specific problems. Instead, your main strategic efforts go toward optimizing overall process maturity, since:
"The right process will produce the right results."
The quote is from The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer, 2004, page vi. The quote is the title of Section Two of the book.
At the top of the ladder sits a whole new way of thwinking.
Unless your mission defines an easy problem, you will probably score low, just as 8 out of 10 of the organizations in the table did. This may at first appear to be bad news. Another way to interpret it, however, is it's good news. The results tell you why you're having trouble and where you need to focus to improve. Like the good doctor, you have diagnosed your case. You now know where you must work to improve until your score is good enough to solve the problems you've committed your organization to. The assessment table theorizes that a total process maturity rating of about 8,000 is required to reliably solve difficult environmental and other social problems.
So now that you know where you need to improve, how to you do that? That's what the Thwink website is for. The site is a vast and deep treasure house of rich educational material, just sitting there waiting for you to mine its riches.
The site is not perfect or complete. You will find gaps and material that could be better. When you do, please help us to improve the site. This will help you and all the other organizations who are committed to improving their process maturity to the point where they can confidently achieve their mission.
Some will do even better than that. Once your problem solving process reaches high maturity, do what business has been doing for a long time. Raise the bar. Shoot for the stars.
Here is the next page in the Self Study Guide Series: