Strategic 360s

Making feedback matter

Where Are You Going with Your 360?

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What’s the old saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”?  A few of my blogs have proposed that 360 processes should have an explicit statement of their purpose/goal and that the multitude of decisions in design and implementation should be guided by that statement .

So what should (or can) be the goal of a 360 process? What is the “end game,” i.e., the desired outcome?  And how will you know if you get there? There are undoubtedly multiple valid answers to those questions.

In April, Carol Jenkins and I will be leading a SIOP Workshop on 360 and we would like to discuss this question of the purpose and goals of 360 processes. One reason is that if we have different mental models of what we are trying to achieve, then we will certainly disagree on the “best” approaches to implementing a 360 process.

As a behaviorist, my bias has been to define the goal of a 360 process in behavioral terms. To support that position, I have referred to quotes from the book “Execution” by Bossidy and Charan (2003), that state: “The culture of a company is the behavior of its leaders. Leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate.” And “We don’t think ourselves into a new way of acting, we act ourselves into a new way of thinking.”

Given that perspective, we (“360 From Another Angle,” Bracken, Timmreck, Fleenor, and Summers, 2001) proposed this definition of the goal of a “valid” 360 process:

“(To create) sustained, observed improvement in behaviors valued by the organization.

When we say “observed,” the direct implication is that they are measurable (by the 360 process). With that definition, we should be able to determine whether it is being achieved and maintained over time.

So what is your definition of purpose (goals) for your 360 process, or for 360 processes in general? If you don’t agree with the one I have offered, tell us why and offer an alternative. Your goal statement should begin with “To…” and ideally be a SMART goal (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bounded). (Mine doesn’t meet all those criteria, and your criteria may be a little different, but hopefully you get the idea.) For example, “To promote leadership development” wouldn’t cut it.

I hope you will jump in and help us!  If we get some responses to this, it should be good fodder for future blogs and for our SIOP Workshop!!

©2010 David W. Bracken

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