Doing Agendashift online (3 of n): The assessments

The time to take a close look at 1) your strategy and 2) your ways of working is now. You need to do those together – integrated, wholeheartedly, no half measures. The place to do it is online. We’re here to help you.

This is #3 in a series of unspecified length, covering ways you can do Agendashifty things online (we have plenty of practice).

Here we look at Agendashift’s assessments, which have been online since the beginning. If ever you’ve been surveyed by email and Excel, you’ll know why we do it online; if you’re still doing it like it’s 1999, shame on you!

You can easily adapt the advice given here if you want to use the assessment for coaching purposes. Considerations for online workshops:

  1. How & when to send out the survey
  2. Delivering the survey debrief
  3. Facilitating the followups

That last consideration is a big enough topic that it will spill over into the next installment. Here we’ll cover things specific to the assessment itself.

1. How & when to send out the survey

I’ve not written about the assessment tool as much as I could and should – quite apart from its specific role in the workshop of helping people to identify areas of opportunity, it does a great job of setting the tone for the workshop or coaching engagement. And it’s a door-opener!

In its wording, we’ve taken great care to avoid prescription. People don’t respond well to anything that feels like coercion, and dialling back on the jargon means that it works in a wide range of contexts (some of our best experiences have been outside of technology teams) and opens up the broadest range of possibilities.

Some partners have reported good results from capturing survey input through a facilitated group exercise. Personally, I don’t do that, for fear 1) of sucking the energy from the room and 2) of depriving ourselves of the widest range of responses. That said, conducting the survey via a series of private one-to-one conversations does work really well.

Doing it one-to-one when you’re physically in the same room, handy tip #1 is to open the survey’s sharing link in a private browser window (an ‘Incognito’ window in Chrome). You slide your laptop over to your counterpart, they sign themselves up, and you take notes as they provide “as little or as much commentary as they like” as they complete their assessment. Online, just share the link – via Zoom’s chat feature, say – and have them complete their assessment whilst sharing their screen. Easy!

Tip #2: If you’re surveying a lot of people, and only some of them are through these one-to-one conversations, ‘tag’ the sharing link for each population group so that you can slice and dice the results afterwards. We find that leadership teams (for example) tend to score the assessment more strictly (lower, in other words), making them a good baseline for comparison with other groups.

For those larger populations, here’s a typical email invitation:

At the link below is the prework for <event>. Before you begin, decide on a scope – your team or something bigger – and stick to it; trust me that any differences in scope or scale will be not be an obstacle when we review the full survey results together.

If any of the prompts strike you as particularly important for discussion, please ‘star’ them when you get to the review page at the end. We ask that you limit yourself to a maximum of 6 stars, eg 3, 2, 1 for your top 3 priorities or 1 star each across 6; the tool will warn you if you go over this limit.

Please do your best to complete by <date> to give us time to print the handouts with the survey results. Thank you!

I like to send this out a week in advance. Of course for online workshops we won’t be relying on the printed handouts referred to in the last paragraph so the timing is slightly less constrained, but still you want to allow enough time both for responses and for a polite nudge or two if you’re not seeing the expected response rate.

2. Delivering the survey debrief

This part hardly changes. The debrief is already done via a browser-based report designed for projection, so just share your screen and you’re away. It’s a single page app that responds to your keyboard, mouse, or presentation clicker. The report starts high level – the aim being to get everyone comfortable and recognising their own data – and finishes on the prompts with the widest range of scores, where you’ll have the interesting discussions.

Tip #3: Remember the “brief” in “debrief”. Better too fast than too slow; participants will have plenty of opportunity to interact with the content afterwards.

Tip #4: Remember that it’s not your job to provide a diagnosis but to facilitate a conversation. Calibrate any commentary carefully. Agreement on outcomes is the most powerful for enabler for strategic change that we know; it’s why Agendashift exists, and the assessment and the followups are designed with that in mind. Don’t undermine it!

3. Facilitating the followups

Group work starts with prioritising the assessment prompts, each table group choosing a shortlist of prompts for further discussion, prompts that help to identify areas of opportunity. 5 prompts per table group works well.

I like to facilitate this 1-2-4-All style:

  • 1: On their own, silently, participants choose their top 3
  • 2: In pairs (or threes, as necessary) , a conversation to arrive at a joint top 4
  • 4: In table groups, agreement on a combined top 5
  • All: A quick whole group debrief

Each of those steps suitably timeboxed.

Tip #5: if you’re using breakout rooms in Zoom (a great feature), remember that anything you’re sharing on-screen will disappear when participants move to their pairs, threes, or table groups. Clear instructions and the availability of all necessary resources are both essential. To that end, each page of the debrief (the one below, for example, or the pages designed for printing) has a shareable URL.

Screenshot 2020-03-25 09.06.37

What happens next isn’t specific to the assessment and I’ll save for next week’s installment what turns out to be a key pattern and well worth covering on its own. So watch this space!

Two things to leave you with meanwhile:

1. Ways to access the assessment:

  1. The Agendashift global survey, with a mini (18-prompt) version of the assessment
  2. The free trial – also the mini version, surveys limited to up to 10 people
  3. Through the partner programme, access to the full range of templates (including the main 42-prompt assessment), size restrictions removed:
    1. Engage one of our partners to administer a survey on your behalf; most would also be delighted to do the surrounding facilitation
    2. Become a partner yourself  – access not just the assessment tool but all our materials too

2. Upcoming opportunities to experience Agendashift online:


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