Assessments Episode 2 – The Players

 

Episode 2 – The Players

To understand the assessment market it is necessary to understand the players, the test publishers. There have traditionally been two primary types of players. The first were smart businesspeople who discovered  simple personality surveys and realized the potential for selling them to companies. These thrive because of the lack of knowledge among the buyers about current assessment options and about advances in assessment science and methods.Some of the companies themselves do not understand the limitations of their outdated instruments, which use methods long since abandoned by serious psychometricians (specialists who create tests).

The second group of players were the serious psychologists and psychometricians whose research into how to measure human traits and abilities developed better and better tools. Unfortunately, while these produced good data, experts were needed to interpret the results. Even with the remarkable data, the complexity of implementation limited their application. These companies generally delivered their assessments with consultants and specialized training programs. Their use was generally reserved for senior executives or key salespeople.

A third type of player emerged in the wake of the Internet. Seeing the business potential of online testing, some companies cobbled together early generation personality surveys or resurrected the odd research project. They dressed them up with a slick Website, and market them today to unsuspecting customers as the latest thing.

 

Most test publishers are well meaning businesses. They are selling what they have always sold. Unfortunately, assessment technology has moved on, and every day customers are becoming more knowledgeable. The objective of these blogs is to add to their knowledge from my unique perspective in the industry. Watch for Episode 3 – They All Look the Same…Sort of. You can also visit www.aboutassessments.com for more information without any selling.

Assessments Episode 1 – The Crowd

 

Episode 1 – The Crowd

I have been in the assessment world for over twenty years. My elementary education was in DISC, but I graduated to 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 to newer alternatives.

Ironically, the second thing I discovered was that there actually 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 of the 80,000 assessments can actually 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 in Episode 2.

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