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6 Guidelines for Consideration During Assessment This chapter presents a series of questions that a manager--either the organization's director or a responsible remember of the parent organization--can ask when considering carrying out an assessment of a research organization. The preceding chapters of this report addressed these questions and suggested some best practices. ASSESSING MANAGEMENT Answers to the following questions will be useful in the assessment of organizational management: Does the organization's management understand its mission and its relationship to that of its parent? Does the vision statement of the organization align with that of the parent organization? Is there a long-range plan for implementing the strategy by specific technical programs? Does the organization have an explicit strategy for its work and for securing the necessary resources? Do the program plans reflect a model for balance--that is, amount of basic versus applied and development research, and short-, medium-, and long-term work? Does the organization have a clear champion within the parent organization? Does management have an aggressive recruiting plan with well-defined criteria for new hires? Is there a set of practices for retaining, promoting, and recognizing the staff? Does the organization have a process for forecasting likely future technical developments in areas appropriate to its mission? Does the organization's management have discretionary authority to invest in new programs on its own initiative? Does management solicit ideas from the staff for new work? Does management regularly assess facilities and equipment for adequacy? Does it have a fiscal plan for updating or replacing laboratory equipment? Is there a process for regularly reviewing the organization's research portfolio for its alignment with the mission? What is the management climate, and how does one assess it? Is there enough flexibility to work across organizational lines? How does the structure of the organization support its mission? How much collaboration is there with outside organizations? How many staff exchanges are there? Does management have a well-defined process and criteria for determining what work is performed in-house versus what work is sponsored via grants, contracts, or other mechanisms with external entities? 42
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Does the management support a culture of creativity, diversity, and entrepreneurship? ASSESSING THE QUALITY OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL WORK Answers to the following questions will be useful in the assessment of the quality of an organization's scientific and technical work: Does the assessment include the quality of the staff, equipment, and facilities? Does the assessment include the nature of the research portfolio as to alignment with the mission and the balance in regard to basic, applied, and development work and short-, intermediate, and long-term research? Does the organization have a set of indicators that can serve as parameters when the time frame precludes immediate assessment? Does the organization benchmark itself against premier organizations? Who is the expected audience for the assessment? Is the review done by technical peers? What are the criteria for ensuring the credibility and validity of the assessment? What is the scope of the assessment? Does it include proposals for new work? Does it include assessment of completed work--internal review and authority to release a report, publications, patents, invited lectures, awards, and the like? Who designs and manages the assessment? ASSESSING RELEVANCE AND IMPACT Addressing the following questions will be useful in the assessment of an organization's relevance and impact: Does the organization have a process for identifying its stakeholders and customers? Does it have a regular process for reviewing its programs and plans with its stakeholders? Does the organization have a process for learning of its customers' current and likely future needs and expectations for the organization? Does the organization have an explicit process for tracking the utilization of its results (e.g., is transition to the next R&D stage actively managed and measured)? Does it have a formal program for recording the history of its work from concept to final utility or impact? Does the organization have a program to conduct retrospective studies of its earlier work? 43
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