Asking the (sometimes hard) questions

| by Staci Barfield

One of my favorite things to do is to work with clients to develop an organizational assessment. Assessments are a core part of the work we do at Armstrong McGuire. Focusing on six key pillars of organizational capacity and sustainability – Mission, Vision, and Strategy; Leadership; Resource Development; Strategic Relationships; Program Delivery and Impact; and Operations, Management, and Culture – these reports give an understanding of the current state and future needs of the organization.

Earlier this week, I met with two clients who have truly internalized the findings of their assessments. They are using these reports to gain consensus, drive priorities, supplement funding requests, and maintain focus. This not only made me happy to hear, but also got me thinking about how assessment should be a part of our everyday lives, not only professionally, but personally. If we really want to improve, grow, and move forward, shouldn’t we all be asking ourselves these (sometimes difficult) questions? Using the methodology we employ with clients, I’ve developed an informal personal assessment survey that consists of the following questions:

  • What is going well in my life? What am I doing to make these good things happen? Am I celebrating my successes?
  • What are my goals? Where do I want to be in a month? A year? Five years? What do I need to do to achieve these goals?
  • What’s not working for me? What needs to change? What have I learned from my failures? How can I make a bad situation better?
  • What elements of my life/environment can I control? What is outside my sphere of influence?

We often get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to look at the bigger picture – it’s the old “can’t see the forest for the trees” adage. Whether personal or professional, I’ve learned that it is important to occasionally take stock of where you are and where you want to go. So, the next time you have a few spare minutes, pick one of the questions from the list above and try to answer it. You might be surprised at your own response. I know I was!

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