Assessments: the map
Assessments: The map is not the country
The core purpose of an assessment is to clarify a person’s “story”. People enter an assessment with their stories, sometimes explicitly, but often (partly) implicit. The stories are never ending stories.
The stories are about the journeys that people have covered and where they are now. The latter is not always obvious, but crucial for the continuation of the journey. This is the case in the selection and development assessments. For some, the journey brought them to a destination where they didn’t want to be. Sometimes people think that the current location is an ideal base for the continuation of the journey, but that is not always the reality. Then the question regarding direction and destination becomes crucial. It is striking how often people describe their journey so far as an organic process in which both coincidences and planned steps are recognizable. The future is sketched as a linear process. Suddenly, there are no more “gusts of wind”, “treacherous currents” or “mutinous crews”. However, the reality is (usually) different.
Past successes are an important basis for future successes, but no guarantee. In an assessment we explore together with the candidate whether and to what extent the successes are linked to the candidate’s strengths. Some success stories prove to be based on a mix of luck and “superhuman efforts “, not quite the foundation on which to build. Luck is hard to plan and working structurally with super human efforts will have to end sooner or later.
The journey continued:
As long as people live, they are travelling and they add to their stories. Sometimes a sentence, sometimes a chapter, but sometimes a new book. The assessment provides “the traveller” the clarity needed: where and how he/she can continue the journey, what is needed in terms of preparation and how can one cope with the risks that are part of travelling and utilize the opportunities?
For a good journey maps are important and they provide a lot of information about what the traveller can expect. A good map of the Netherlands shows that there are no mountains, quite a few rivers and urban development in the west. Valuable information, but someone who, after a (thorough) map study claims to know the Netherlands should not be taken too seriously. Only after he/she has travelled around and the information on the map is linked to observations and conversations with people the story gets content and value.
This is also the case in an assessment. The profiles (maps) provide much information about the person in terms of dealing with complexity, strengths and weaknesses, and where the energy is created. The CV provides information about the journey so far, but numbers and factual information do not make a story. This story grows in the conversation with the candidate and is not always a linearly extrapolated past, the assessment results regularly in a major change of course.