What is an Organizational Assessment?


Q) What is an Organizational Assessment?

A) The My Healthy Organization assessment (MHO) is a process to spur dialogue among leadership, board, staff and other key stakeholders about your group’s strengths and challenges at a certain point in time, providing direction and learning for all those involved. The assessment is most helpful when it is used to deepen understanding of the organization’s current structure and practices and to inform dialogue, planning, and action to strengthen key areas.

Process and tools: In our experience, tools are often used in a vacuum, without thoughtful attention to process. They can raise the expectation of a “quick fix” or worse, result in unintended consequences or situations that the organization is unprepared to handle.   The creators of My Healthy Organization believe the assessment process is every bit as important as the tool itself.

A comprehensive assessment process using this tool can help you:

• Better understand strengths and weaknesses across all areas of organizational life and practice.

• Identify where there tends to be agreement or divergence of opinions.

• Promote dialogue and create a safe context to discuss issues that may often be avoided; swept under the rug; or considered too delicate, provocative or controversial.

• Develop plans and, using the survey as a baseline measure, assist you in tracking implementation and performance over time.

• Envision what a highly effective organization looks like as it evolves.

• Outline a path to address key capacity-building goals.

Q) The assessment looks pretty long — couldn’t it be shorter and simpler?

A) We understand your reaction! Believe us, our number one priority is to keep things simple and smart. In our experience, a quick checklist is likely to be superficial and not give you the information you really need.

My Healthy Organization asks you to pick the best description of your experience — from “Level 1” to “Level 4” — on a whole range of skills/capacities. Instead of asking you to rank your group’s performance as “excellent, good, poor” (or some variation), we provide you with a specific description — real world examples — of what the organization would need to look like to rank itself at any given level. This approach reveals a common vision of current practices and gives participants a lens on potential shifts to foster a stronger organization.

Q) What do the different levels mean?

A) My Healthy Organization assessment is organized into four levels illustrating a typical  progression from informality and short-term planning, toward more intentionality, organization-wide understanding, and attention to internal structures, practices, culture, and strategic positioning for the long haul.

Based on your responses, the assessment summarizes a level for each of the eight areas such as strategic planning, leadership, communications, and infrastructure.

The final My Healthy Organization report also provides an overall score based on your average across all areas of performance.

Remember: Organizations may be very advanced in some areas while still developing in other areas. For example, a young or small organization formed to respond to a specific situation could be at a high level on quality of programs but at a lower level on infrastructure.  In fact, a “low” score on infrastructure probably means that the group is focused right where it needs to in its early phase of development. We offer the levels as a way to measure current practices and raise points of inquiry to best define what your group needs to meet its goals.

Below are descriptions of each level (See also the Glossary):

Level 1: Emerging. Generally corresponds to a small, young or start-up phase. The group may have come together around a specific campaign or project focus without explicit commitment to collective, long-term work toward systemic change. Work is driven by a small number of committed staff and board, but may not have significant resources. Structure is a bit loose or ad-hoc, with informal processes and practices. May be more spontaneous and reactive.

Level 2: Developing.   Basic practices are in place regarding planning, program design and organizational leadership, but processes are still often informal or inconsistent. Scale of organizing and advocacy may be somewhat limited and primarily responsive to immediate opportunities to win concrete change.

Level 3: Progressing. Clear analysis of structural injustice and inequities and commitment to work together over the long haul. Shared vision, values, and common understanding across the organization. Increased clarity about the importance of internal capacity-building and leadership development.  Moderate level of infrastructure in place.

Level 4: Strategic.  Diverse strategies and tactics aimed at transforming policies, institutions, culture, individual attitudes and behavior, and reframing the larger public debate and social norms. Skills, resources, and infrastructure aligned with scope of goals. Practices and policies are written, transparent, understood, and consistently implemented.  Strategic and proactive planning, and commitment to shared power and leadership development at all levels. Visible commitment to movement building with active strategic partnerships with other alliances to scale up for broader impact.

Using the average responses across all areas, the assessment provides you with an overall level that reflects these typical phases of organizational development.  

Q) Is the My Healthy Organization assessment filled out all online?

A) The MHO Assessment lives on a user-friendly web platform.  Participants fill out the tool through our website; this usually takes less than an hour.  If needed, participants have the option to fill out the assessment on a paper copy and have their responses integrated into the overall results.

Q) Are individual’s assessment responses kept confidential? How?

A) Yes. Assessment data is summarized without names, and if quotes are shared they are not attributed by name but rather used to illustrate meaningful points. The auto-generated reports provide several controls to ensure that all responses and reports are anonymous.

Q) What is the process: How do we know how to do this?

A) First off: You won’t be alone. You will be guided by RoadMap’s Customer Service team or a facilitator who has received specific training on the MHO assessment.

You’ll move through preparation, taking the assessment and analyzing the results to create an action plan.  While every assessment process is different, you can expect the experience to follow the general outline on the Taking the Assessment page.