Using Assessment Results
Q) What kind of report will we get at the end?
A) Once everyone has completed the assessment, your facilitator will help you generate a report that can be shared with everyone. This report will include:
• Average scores for each of the 10 categories with an analysis that clearly identifies your alliance’s level of development in that area.
• Scores for each of the individual questions within each section.
• Alignment and divergence scales to show where there is agreement and disagreement within the alliance.
• A list of all narrative responses by question, randomized to maintain confidentiality.
The report should be shared with the leadership team, then with the people who took the assessment, then, in a special meeting (or series of meetings), with the full alliance. Your facilitator can help facilitate those conversations and assist you in developing specific action plans for the coming months or year.
Q) What if we get a bad score?
A) There’s no such thing as a bad score! Keeping a few things in mind will help you keep your score in perspective:
Like a kid in school, most of us want to see high-level scores as an indicator of success, and we may view a lower ranking as a reflection of poor performance. We would like to encourage you to think of your assessment scores in a different way. The key is to view the scores as indicators of developmental phases, not judgments. Understanding your assessment level helps you see more clearly where you are in order to identify where you want to go and what kinds of capacity you want to prioritize to meet your particular goals at a particular time.
There is no single structure, model, or pace of development that applies to all effective social justice alliances. The framing of the levels as a developmental progression (toward more ambitious and defined purpose, structure, and practices) may suggest that level 4 is the “picture of success,” but it is important to note that not all alliances move through all of these stages, nor do they move through them in the same sequence or at the same rate. Your scores are useful as a way of providing perspective about your own alliance’s evolution, not in comparing it to other alliances or measuring it against some standardized model.
Most alliances don’t fit exactly into one level. When you read the conditions or characteristics associated with a particular level, you may feel your alliance is “a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” You may be in transition between stages or different aspects of the alliance may be in several different stages at the same time. This is normal.
Your ranking overall and within the various capacity areas should be considered in light of your own alliance’s purpose and stage of development. A very young alliance should reasonably expect averages close to levels 1 and 2. An alliance with a relatively narrow focus or time-limited purpose may be appropriately situated at level 2 or 3, and your goals may not require that you scale up to level 4 in every area. A more established alliance may have more 3’s and 4’s, but some aspects of alliance practice may still be very informal and unstructured, resulting in a lower rank.
The four levels of alliance development are intended to help you envision what a highly effective strategic alliance looks like as it evolves. Your scores along that spectrum provide a picture of where your alliance is in this moment, as well help chart your desired progress. Assessing your level of development across many areas can help focus your capacity building efforts to ensure that your structures and practices keep pace with the scope of your social change goals.
Q) How can the assessment guide us over time?
A) The alliance should establish a time to check in on the goals that emerge from the assessment, to evaluate progress and results, and determine when it is time to address other items prioritized. The goal is to use the report and the questions raised in the assessment as a dynamic and living tool to provide guidance, direction, and ongoing improvements and growth. Of course many alliances undergo rapid and varied changes so some of the information may be outdated within a year or two. The assessment tool may come in handy again and again over the alliance’s life cycle. The OHA packages allow your alliance to conduct the assessment twice if you wish to systematically compare results over time.