Learning patterns/Using structured assessment tools for development planning

A learning pattern fororganizational
Using structured assessment tools for development planning
problemYour organization needs to grow or you are trying to work out a strategic plan but you have trouble establishing priorities for development.
solutionUse a structured assessment tool for pinpointing problematic areas and development opportunities.
creatorDaniel Charms
created on11:47, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?Edit

Improving the effectiveness of your organization is a difficult task, not the least because you might not always a clear idea of what your current problems and bottlenecks might be. Likewise, even if you are aware of your problem areas, it might not always be immediately clear if and how they can be improved. Discussion of these problems can prove difficult, as it is not always easy for people to step back from the minutiae of everyday work of the organization and look at the situation in a broader context.

What is the solution?Edit

Having a comprehensive overview of organizational capacity can be beneficial for developing plans for the future. One way to achieve this is to use a structured assessment tool, such as the McKinsey & Company Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT), a free online tool that allows non-profits to measure the effectiveness of their organization against best practices.


  1. Register your organization
  2. Set up a survey and invite respondents
  3. Take the survey
  4. Set up a debriefing discussion

Things to considerEdit

  • Be sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with the tool and consider how well it corresponds to your requirements. Not all the areas covered in the survey might be relevant to your organization.
  • The number of participants in the survey is not particularly limited. It is, however, important to keep in mind that the OCAT is not meant as a survey of the entire staff of the organization. The participants should be able to respond insightfully to questions regarding the effectiveness of the organization.
  • It can be useful to repeat the survey after a certain period of time or make it a part of your annual planning process in order to see how your effectiveness has improved.
  • In case the assessment shows several large problem areas, it can be useful to use a prioritization tool such as a cause and effect matrix (i.e. analyzing which areas are more likely to impact others), an impact effort matrix, etc.

When to useEdit

This pattern was used by Wikimedia Eesti in 2016 for getting a better picture of the present situation of our organization and establishing development priorities.


See alsoEdit

Related patternsEdit

External linksEdit

McKinsey on Society: Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool