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Observations on Assessments Pt. 1: The Crowd

Updated: May 17, 2022

Welcome to our new series called Observations on Assessments. Over the next 10 weeks Chuck will dive into the in's and out's of the assessment industry. Stay tuned, we will have new posts up every Thursday!

I have been in the assessment world for over twenty years. My elementary education was in DISC, but I graduated with serious instruments with the help of some more widely educated experts in the field. Inspired by a glimpse of what was possible, I began a 2-year exploration of the assessment market. I took hundreds of the 80,000 occupationally-related instruments. Some of the top people in psychometrics were kind enough to teach me about the science of building assessment tools. I accumulated a library of incredibly boring but informative books on the subject. I attended conferences and seminars. Two things became clear: First, there was a crowd of assessments in the marketplace, with a chasm between the quality of the best ones and the quality of the most common ones. Few people understood the personality theories that were the basis of the tools, and more telling, where each theory fit in the chronological evolution of psychological science. In other words, which ones were old ideas and which were based on current thinking. Even the salespeople selling assessment products seldom knew anything about other assessments or where theirs fit in the quality mix. Since the salespeople knew little, they could only communicate little to their customers other than extolling the virtues of their wares. Well-meaning business people tended to purchase whatever they were sold, having no reference point to its relative value or newer alternatives.

Ironically, the second thing I discovered was that there were a handful of instruments that were based on current psychology and used the latest psychometric methods to collect the data. These instruments measured hard-wired traits and abilities accurately and reliably. Consider this: These traits and abilities were the foundation of all human behavior. And they did not change with training, coaching, or incentives! This was a game-changer for HR particularly and business in general. It shattered the existing paradigms of hiring, training, and managing. This was amazing! Why was everyone not using this data? The answer was that only a handful of the 80,000 assessments can do that. Most provide interesting reports and fun exercises. Some provide some hiring information, but that too is little more than an isolated event. The game changers were effectively lost in the crowd.Learn more about what they can do and where they are hiding next week in The Players.

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