Using independent assessments

What is a relational assessment? An assessment follows an open, non-prejudiced process of enquiry. The methods applied systematically draw out the experiences and perspectives of the parties in a development relationship so that they can be compared a based on an appreciation of the interests that each brings.

Why use an independent assessment? Efforts to fix relationship problems in development may fail because of a lack of clarity about the problem or conflict that is presented. What is the real disagreement? What triggered it? What behaviors and actions are preventing resolution? What are the participants’ attitudes about resolution? Can a remedial process work in this case and circumstances?

What an independent assessment can tell you. An independent assessment could help the parties determine if and how and whether to proceed to resolve the dispute. An independent assessment can answer the following questions:

  1. What is the nature and context of this problem or conflict? Among whom?
  2. What issues need resolution?
  3. What is a realistic scope of conflict to address in the proposed process?
  4. What has triggered this conflict? What other conflict triggers are likely?
  5. What behaviors and actions sustain the conflict? Can negative results be mitigated?
  6. Who should participate? Are participants willing to engage in a collaborative process?
  7. What should that process include and how will it be designed?
  8. Is it likely that a process can be effective?
  9. What are the participants’ attitudes about addressing this conflict?
  10. If not resolved, can the dispute be reduced?

The product of an independent assessment – the report and recommendation.

An independent assessment can result in a written or informal oral report containing advice about whether a process can be recommended to address the relational problem. This is useful whether the conflict is internal (within an organization) or external – involving third parties.

The independent assessment process often results in feedback that addresses the following:

  • What was done in the independent assessment and how was it done.
  • What was learned (often reported without attribution).
  • Identification of key issues and differences.
  • Recommendations about how or whether to proceed to resolve or diminish the conflict.