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Why You Need an Assessment Protocol

Possibly the least sexy aspect of your practice, but the most decisive.

I’m a tech consultant and a yoga teacher. In both fields, I consider myself successful when I’ve helped my client address and improve a problematic situation. It’s very tempting when sorting out a problem to rest on expertise and do what you ‘know’ needs to be done.  Because of this temptation, it requires extra diligence to make sure you’re not just seeing what you already know, but treating each situation as fresh.

Because of the underlying tendency to automatize – which we all have – we need a routine to consistently counter our habits.  We also know that the placebo effect will make any intervention look more like it’s working.  That’s why the assessment protocol was invented. Here’s a great example:  a body reading protocol from James Earls and Tom Myers (in Fascial Release for Structural Balance):

1. Describe the skeletal relationships.

2. Assess the soft tissue pattern that creates or holds the pattern in place.

3. Strategise – develop a story about how and why these elements are interrelated, and create a strategy for the order in which those elements will be worked.

4. Intervene – do your work. …

5. Evaluate – when any given intervention is complete, reassess and re-evaluate.

Although the specifics are about the body, a similar protocol works great for tech issues.  Before jumping ahead to solving the problem, first clearly describe it and work out its underlying structure.  Too often, what’s addressed is superficial or temporary – the underlying pattern hasn’t been changed, and all the new work will quickly get washed away like a sand castle on the beach.  Working out the dependencies and order of operations is key – and clarity here will allow your client to trust your work even if it involves things getting messier before they resolve.

I hope the people I work with pick up not just short-term fixes or even long-term solutions, but also inspiration to assess and re-evaluate what they’re doing on an ongoing basis.  It’s so tempting to take the course that sounds like a good idea, or is just the way it’s done.   The only way to counteract that is to check that each measure is actually tuned to address what you intend to address.  Establishing a diligent evaluation routine is the difference between claiming objectivity and actually practicing it.

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