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Organizational Assessment: Take Your Org from Good to Great

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This popular expression applies to many scenarios in the workplace. However, an organizational assessment isn’t a fix. In fact, the best time to assess your organization is when all is going well. This article will explore why and how to conduct an organizational assessment in the absence of a major change or challenge.

What is organizational assessment?

Organizational assessment is the audit of an organization’s processes, environment, and structure. It guides the development of actionable strategies and plans that ensure an organization’s goals are met. Many organizations use it prior to a major change to determine preparedness and potential impacts.

Assessment is part of an organization’s systems approach that leverages planning, processes, people, and performance to effectively empower staff to deliver key outcomes. It involves the analysis of external organizational factors (clients, stakeholders, and competitors) and the internal environment (employees, organizational systems, and processes) to better align organizational policies and procedures with strategic priorities.

When should an organization conduct an assessment?

Leaders usually commission assessments for two reasons:

  • Something in the organization is broken; for example, staff attrition is skyrocketing, or a program is losing a significant amount of money

  • A major change is impending; for example, the organization is launching a new program or undergoing a reorganization

In these instances, the organization is already under pressure and stress from the challenge or change, so assessment becomes a reactive process intended to fix.

Think about what might happen if organizations approached assessment proactively before things are broken or on the brink of change. Imagine the resources available—time, staff, and finances—to conduct a thorough assessment when the organization is in a healthy place. The purpose of assessment during a stable time might be one or a combination of the following:

  • Uncover possible blind spots

  • Learn potential problems before they become significant

  • Discover opportunities to get better

What does organizational assessment include?

Typically, organizational assessment includes the following four phases:

  • Context and Goal setting: Determine the purpose and scope of the assessment, including goals, assigned staff, and timeline.

  • Data collection: Gather data in the form of stakeholder interviews, surveys, focus groups, and documentation.

  • Analysis: Review data, synthesize for patterns, summarize themes, and make evidence-based recommendations.

  • Action planning: Based on analysis, create actionable next steps with key milestones to address the assessment’s intended purpose.

Assessment considers the following components of an organization in a system-wide approach:

  • Motivation: This includes the organization’s mission, vision, values, culture, and traditions.

  • External environment: These are the factors outside of the organization such as social, political, regulatory, economic, and technological forces that directly affect its ability to deliver outcomes.

  • Capacity: This facet is made up of the organization’s functions including leadership, financial, program management, and infrastructure.

Together these areas move the needle on organizational performance, so all components must be assessed and addressed simultaneously. Too many organizations focus on improving or changing one of the above parts of an organization while disregarding the rest; a systems approach requires holistically analyzing improving an organization.

What’s next?

Lean-IQ provides assessment services to help non-profit and public sector organizations put into place such systems that can ensure their success. We use workforce planning, workflow mapping, and analysis tools to suggest system and process improvements. We develop plans for performance and change management, job design, DEI organizational assessments, and team development. Finally, we use performance metrics to carefully monitor and evaluate the new programs for effectiveness. We would love to work with you to design a custom assessment for your organization.

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