IAD: About Individual Assessment for Development

Read what the Financial Times made of the first of the IAD projects we ran for BT.

Conventional assessment centres have passed their sell-by date. Originally conceived (by the German Wehrmacht, as it happens) as a way of structuring and harnessing a community of judgement amongst assessors, in practice assessment centres have degenerated into tick-in-a-box assortments of off-the-shelf exercises. The giveaway is the fact that scores across assessment dimensions typically correlate very highly within exercises, but that scores across exercises correlate poorly for individual assessment dimensions. From being the haute couture of the assessment world, they have become high street ripoffs.

In particular for high-potential individuals with a significant career history, conventional group assessment centres represent a poor use of resources, not least the time of high-value human assets, participants and assessors alike, and the artificiality and poor ecological validity of off-the-shelf exercises become particularly, and sometimes embarrassingly, obvious.



PRD's IAD technique was designed specifically to address these issues. Originally developed for a specific requirement at BT - to identify the development needs of General Managers about to move from top-line to bottom-line P&L responsibility in the new role of Market Manager (effectively the CEO of a vertically-integrated market sector in the Major Business division of BT Retail) - IAD has proved so successful and versatile that it is now available generally, as well as being implemented for other groups within BT.

IAD begins with highly-customised online self-assessment tools (delivered using our Diablo technology) based on an analysis of the job demands of the target role. These tools, including an extended CV builder and detailed questionnaires examining both the detailed capability requirements and the resources the individual can bring to the party, have been developed over the past dozen or so years using PRD's KEST approach to job analysis and role profiling. Completed by the participants in their own time (at leisure is rarely an accurate term for the level of participant typically involved), these tools are analysed by software and processed by a Scirocco-based report writer so that the assessors can prepare thoroughly for the face-to-face session and use that time to best effect.


There follows a half-day workshop session, structured around three presentations by the participant, with the participation of three assessors. Two of the assessors are drawn from PRD's team of highly-skilled Chartered Psychologists, with long and wide experience and a level of expertise we believe is unsurpassed elsewhere. These are independent psychologists, who come together as a team for IAD projects and work in ever-changing pairs to ensure a consistent level and style of assessment. The third assessor is supplied by the host organisation, and is usually a senior HR manager or line manager with particular interests or responsibility for career development for key talent.

The workshops are often landmark events for the participants: tiring, certainly; searching, of course. But it is rare for people at this level to have the time and be given the individual attention that their career potential deserves.


The output of the process is a detailed report, structured around identified job demands but entirely individual-focussed, and designed to be used by both the individual and the organisation in planning future development activities and a career path. Anonymised examples are available on request to organisations seriously interested in how we can provide this service to them and their high-potential staff.

Assessment is rarely without an element of stress for the target individual. The IAD process recognises this, but our assessors are skilled in converting perceived threat into the recognition of opportunity, and it is rare for the workshops to be perceived as anything but a positive experience in retrospect.