Measure the glue–continued

Measuring time

Image by aussiegall via Flickr

In my earlier post about the “glue” of collaboration, I spent the time describing the area of discussion and none about the actual measurement.  That wasn’t exactly by design, as much as it was a realization that measuring collaboration means establishing some ground rules and accepting some risks and vagueness.

The ground rules are both simple and tough. Define what it is you’re trying to measure.  I’m involved with that right now on my team and it is not easy.  Objective measurement, as well as methodology, of collaboration and/or teamwork means setting up scales, deliverables, degrees of importance or weight (“So, was that assist worth a 5 or a 7?” and what does that mean?).  There’s also the issue of whether this measurement applies to the group or to individuals and how you measure individual collaboration in a way that reduces the ability to game the system (“I’ll give you a +5 in the assessment if you give me one as well.”).  Messy stuff….

I guess the point of this post is not so much to provide definitive answers as much as some suggestions and provide a place to further the discussion. I will keep noodling on it, too.

Many education systems use a grading rubric to describe the different levels of engagement that will garner the grades.  An example from a class I teach for one criterion – Organization and Clarity, described as Viewpoints and responses are outlined both clearly and orderly, There are then four levels of performance:

    1. Unclear in most parts
    2. Clear in some parts but not overall
    3. Most clear and orderly in all parts
    4. Completely clear and orderly presentation

Once the definitions for clear and orderly are agreed upon, you have a better shot at assessing assessing this area…and you want a 4

A rubric is an extremely simple example. Clearly figuring out what to measure, how to measure it, what positive and negative measures are, what weight to give one aspect of the rubric over another, and even if you’re measuring the right things correctly…..these all need to happen, and if you wait until you have it all locked in, you’ll never actually get started. Figure out a place to start, measure, evaluate (PLEASE give it some time…you won’t know after a week, most likely….), and make adjustments, if need be.  K.D. Paine has a few books, an excellent blog and an entire business focused on measurement (of social media, public relations, communications, etc.) and the work and discipline of her methods and experience could well inform the similar efforts around collaboration, too.

There is another issue to resolve when measuring the glue: do you measure performance based on the performance of the team (both internally and with other teams) or somehow assess the collaborative performance of an individual in the context of interactions with others?  That will the the subject of another post.

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