Advent Consulting Associates employs procedures that are based on relevant and reliable data to help guide both organizational development and leadership development initiatives. We work closely with the client to define all plans of action, and we apply our knowledge of business and the behavioral sciences to bring the best tools and techniques to bear on clearly targeted issues. Throughout our engagements we collect and monitor data for on-going evaluation of our client’s developmental progress.
While we rely on all sources of reliable information that are relevant to the client’s needs, we admit to a clear preference for quantitative data. In this respect, we offer considerable expertise in measurement, data analysis, and psychometrics to select or create measures tailored to the specific requirements of our customers.
Our data collection processes actively engage the client to ensure a thorough coverage of the most important requirements of the business. We then work closely with the client to review results and interpret their implications for future direction and any need for change.
Our approach for organizational development focuses on organizational behavior as a process. This includes personal characteristics and abilities plus interpersonal relationships, social influence processes, team dynamics between leaders and team members, the contextual factors surrounding teams such as the organizational climate, and the social linkages between the team and other groups in the organization.
Our approach to organizational development is tailored to the needs and goals of the organization. A number of effective strategies can be employed to improve leadership effectiveness, but it is important to match any strategy to the goals, culture, and resources of the client organization.
Succession planning. This approach to leadership development has grown extensively in the past few decades. It includes development of "high potentials" within the organization to effectively take over from the organization’s current leadership when the current leaders eventually depart. Thus, succession planning requires a sharp focus on an organization's future and vision in order to align leadership development with the future that current leaders want to create. For such a plan to be successful, a screening of future leadership should be based not only on "what we know and have" but also on "what we intend to become".
Executive coaching. Personal coaching provides learning and strategic assistance for busy executives. Coaching can be used to address immediate tactical and long-term strategic issues, and it is regarded as one of the most powerful means of developing effective leadership skills. The coach is not a consultant in the traditional sense. Instead, the coach relates to the leader as a partner and not as the “expert”. The coach and leader together choose the focus, format, and desired outcomes for their work.
Assessment-guided development. One of the most proven forms of leadership development is the use of measurement and feedback to guide professional development. This approach is especially helpful for people who work in complex, autonomous jobs and who rely heavily on other people for success – common characteristics of managers and senior executives.
Often, we use multiple sources of data (from staff, peers, boss and self) to obtain a 360 degree perspective on critical aspects of work behavior ranging from planning to communicating to rewarding employees and colleagues. We then interpret those results based on comparisons with normative databases of many thousands of managers.
Results from these instruments usually are extremely powerful. The relevance of this information is easily self-evident. Our 360 degree process often is the very first time that managers, executives and other leaders receive feedback that is so detailed about such a full range of their work. Feedback reports provide detailed information on the most important aspects of performance obtained from the people who are the most knowledgeable – one’s bosses, peers, staff and oneself.
This is illustrated to the right by sample results from an actual assessment. The report shows norm-referenced ratings by self, boss, peers, and direct reports across a wide range of vital managerial responsibilities at a large California agency. In this particular example, the rated manager was evaluated very favorably by his boss (red lines), peers (blue) and direct reports (green) with many of his ratings being in the 80th percentile and higher. In most cases, the manager’s self ratings (gray) were lower than the ratings of others, possibly reflecting a high level of aspiration and conscientiousness.
Advent Consulting Associates links these assessments to individual counseling for individualized feedback and interpretation. That lays the foundation for a structured approach by Advent Consulting for career assessment and planning, goal setting, and professional development initiatives.
Truly effective program evaluation efforts center on four general steps depicted in the diagram to the left.
Planning. Our application of research skills begins with an understanding of the question(s) the client seeks to answer. We make special efforts to understand the client’s informational needs and the long-range goal of the evaluation findings. For example, some evaluations might be for purposes of monitoring and updating progress of on-going programs, while other studies are conducted to guide important decisions about funding, structure, and operations. The ultimate purpose of each study helps to determine the scope of the effort (e.g., thoroughness and level of detail needed) as well as its general design and cost. When necessary, we are prepared to conduct a thorough search of published research as a foundation for focusing investigation into well-defined issues.
Design. Our professionals apply research design principles to suit the particular needs, resources, and goals of the evaluation. We help clients and stakeholders to clarify expectations of performance and outcomes, identify measurable criteria and key indicators of success and effectiveness, and a variety of resource requirements for performance improvement.
Two aspects of our research approach are especially important in evaluation: a) the identification of clear and explicit criteria; and b) appropriate methods for measuring those criteria. It is largely with the criteria selected that we can evaluate performance (of a person, program, or policy), and we need an effective and reliable measuring process for any criterion measures to be valid.
Data Gathering and Analysis. We apply both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze data from research, and identify scales of measurement that are appropriate for the specific sources and types of data. We often perform descriptive statistics of the sample(s) and relevant stratification groups, and statistical tests of research hypotheses. Our consultants are very familiar with parametric, non-parametric, multivariate, and univariate statistics and their interpretation.
Communication and Reporting. Our consultants are skilled in the communication and writing of research results, from a description of the research background through the interpretation of findings for decision-making by policy experts, elected officials, and agency managers. We can assist in the preparation of materials for public outreach and presentations, such as slides and graphs, tailored to the characteristics of each specific audience. We are familiar with a variety of formal writing styles including APA, economics, and Turabian styles.