Self Assessment – So why the golf photo?

(c) Tony Davis

I promise this blog isn’t about my attempts to play golf – it’s about self assessment. I’m delighted to have been asked by the Skills & Education Group to discuss this wonderful subject – one of the most creative parts of any educator’s day job – at SEG’s network meeting in Nottingham on September 21st.

So why the golf photo? One of the things we’ll be looking at in the session is how to make a judgement about the potential effectiveness of delegates’ development plans. There are some very easy indicators that will give you an instant in to whether or not your improvement plans will work, or whether they’re going to head you off in the wrong direction, cost you a lot of time, and maybe even introduce yet more bureaucracy into your work.

A phrase that guides much of my work in quality came from Napolean Hill’s book: Think & Grow Rich. It’s about Andrew Carnegie’s industrial strategy. How I came across this book as a 12 year old is another story; it wasn’t a natural follow-on from Spike Milligan..

The phrase was: ‘Turn your shortcomings into assets. Make the worst part of your business the very best, and you’ll have competitive advantage’.

Imagine that: find the weakest part of your provision and don’t just try to shunt it up the hill a little – make it the very best part of the course. Try the thought experiment: which part of your provision do learners like the least? What would you have to do to make this an unmissable learning experience they’ll never forget? If you nail this, your whole provision has just notched up a level.

Trouble is, providers so rarely (forgive the generalisation, but I’m sticking with it) find the weakest part of their provision. What they find are the symptoms that are being caused by the weaknesses, but not the weaknesses themselves. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at your development plan. If, in the left-hand column, you’ve got anything like: poor retention, poor achievement of high grades, poor attendance, etc.. then you haven’t found the issue you need to resolve, and you stand a great chance of causing your staff a great deal of lost time and energy. Worse still, this misdirection gives quality a bad name and the quality manager can end up being thought of as the quality police.

There’s so much more to say and so many more tricks for you to use to interrogate your SAR and QIP, but we’ll save those for the session. More details here:

The reason for the photo is that I’ve spent the last two decades living out of hotels and I hate it. Trouble is, I still love the work. Travelling, then, is the worst part of my job. So how can I make it the best – though I’ll admit ‘best’ might be a stretch.

I’ve recently taken up that elaborate game of paper toss that is golf, and I love it. So now, if I have to stay away, I book a round of golf or a session at a driving range. I’m now literally touring the country playing golf! Turn your shortcomings into assets.. Do join us if you can on September 21st in Nottingham.

Thanks for reading



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