Monday, 4 April 2013

When free and easy and simple just don’t cut the mustard.

As 360° Feedback providers we have been responsible for the design, customisation and administration of the analytics behind great leadership and development programmes for over 15 years

Easy and Simple

I don’t know about you, but I have never come across software or services making a virtue of how complicated they are to use. More often than not we’re told how simple and easy even the most complex systems are to use.

My concern when I see these strap-lines particularly when they’re used to describe complex products that can be very intrusive on an organisation’s time, is that they can so often translate to ‘basic’ and/or ‘limited’.

As users we all want systems that are simple and easy to use. Almost every software company producing high quality products tries to make their product as accessible as possible, from the design of the user interface, to the quality of technical support. But also as business users, even though we demand ease of use, we also want systems that can handle variation, accommodate complex processes and yet still be flexible enough to grow with us, as our business grows.

So in summary the perfect system is one that is simple for everyone to use and also fits perfectly within the individual business environment.

Getting to simple

Customers are right to want to invest in systems that are both easy and simple to use. However they also want systems that “fit” with their specific requirements, resource, culture and budget.

The truth is that it is only after sorting out the difficult bits first – by mapping processes, understanding culture, defining resource, and articulating outcomes – that the virtues of ‘simple and easy’ can come into play.

When the systems also involve the processing of confidential and sensitive information from each member of staff, then balancing the needs of the individual with the culture of the organisation is usually a matter of optimising under a curve, rather than a definitive right or wrong. For an important yet sensitive process like 360 Feedback, your company’s needs will depend on a range of factors, from trust in the process, to how the output from the system is used by the individual and the company. Together these wide ranging factors make the route to understanding your specific requirements variable and time consuming.

We’ve amassed considerable experience over the years in helping customers understand their needs. We help companies design 360 degree feedback systems that give great results, quickly and reliably, accommodating for the comfort level in giving feedback and minimising the time taken to achieve the feedback. From what we’ve learnt from working with our customers, we know that the philosophy driving your 360 feedback system, the comfort in giving feedback and how you will use the results from the system drives the effectiveness of the system almost more than anything else. Over the years we have created a six step process that we call “Behave!”, which enables our clients to work out for themselves the best solution for their needs. Once they have done this, the rest is then both simple and easy!!

Behave! … Getting 360° systems right for your organisation

  1. Understand (company, culture, goals, resource)
  2. Ask the right questions
  3. Get the right answers
  4. Give the right feedback
  5. Provide the right support
  6. Measure the right things

Understanding how Behavioural Development is to fit within the organisation takes most of the work, but the nice thing is that you most probably have the all answers, you just haven’t needed to ask them with Behavioural Development in mind.

We will take a look at each of the key issues in greater detail in future posts on the philosophy and the use of 360 feedback. They will, I hope, help your thoughts in considering exactly what kind of system best matches your needs. The better you understand your organisation’s needs and comfort with any kind of feedback, the easier it will be for you to work out the kind of tools to help you deliver 360° feedback, regardless of how simple and easy the tools claim to be.

We have been responsible for the design, customisation and administration of the behavioural analytics behind great leadership and management development programmes for over 15 years.

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