book review: the social profit handbook by david grant17 Oct 2021
What are the main ideas?
- there are two types of assessment: formative and summative. formative assessment is evaluation for the purpose of improvement (tasting food as it’s being prepared to improve it). summative assessment is evaluation that determines the final quality of something (the restaurant critic).
- although it doesn’t have to be like this, summative assessment in our culture is often punitive.
- we could a lot of improvement in the process and impact of work in the social profit sector if we do more formative assessment (and mostly get rid of summative assessments). this would be most powerful if the formative assessment was taken on by the people doing and/or impacted by the work.
- “mission time”, time dedicated to focus on the mission of a person/project/organization, is extremely rare in the social profit world and that is problematic. if we gave ourselves more mission time, we would see drastic improvements in our effectiveness.
- one excellent tool to structure mission time is the rubric.
- rubrics are an excellent tool for formative (and i guess also summative) assessment. they are underused in the social profit sector.
- when developed collaborative, rubrics can help groups develop clear visions of success, failure, and mediocrity; all of which are helpful for assessing work in an ongoing way.
- one continually surprising benefit of rubric design (in the way david grant does it) is that a lot can be illuminated in the work to define the difference between “perfectly acceptable” success and “exemplary” success.
- everyone should have a footlong bookshelf (here’s how grant talks about it: “If you had only a single, foot-long piece of bookshelf, and the books you put on it would be instantly known and well understood by the staff and board of your organization, what would you put on the shelf?”). here’s his old one and his new one.
If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?
- create more “mission time.”
- develop a footlong bookshelf.
How would I describe the book to a friend?
an incredibly pragmatic read that has helped me rethink assessment. the first half of the book is framing and reframing of a few key ideas: what is assessment, what is it good/not good for, how do we use or fail to use our time wisely, and a couple others. the second half is a deep dive into the content and process of developing rubrics. it has copious examples that really drive the point home: collaborative development of rubrics to do formative assessment in social profit work is an excellent investment of time. overall, this rubric work seems like a really straightforward, not necessarily easy, way to integrate visioning and reflection into the work of the social sector. i feel very excited to try it on.
reminder: book review structure
words / writing / post-processing
421w / ? / 5min