Capacity Building Self-Assessment Tool

You’ve found your capacity problem. Now you want to solve it. What are the best actions you can take, and resources you can use to help you move from analysis to problem solving? Change of this kind goes beyond performing tasks. Instead, it is more a matter of adapting mindsets, attitudes and behaviors. And the best tool for this is the humble, all-powerful question. Listed below are ideas for identifying your best next steps for solving your capacity challenge so that you can perform better than you did before.

Tips for Identifying Your Best Next Steps

  1. Come to the table with a “learner and growth mindset.” Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Ballantine Books), coined the term “growth mindset.” A “mindset” in her book is described as how you perceive your ability to change, whether that is as an individual or as a team. And as it turns out through Dweck’s research, this perception of your ability to change plays a key role in your or your team’s motivation and achievement. Having a “growth” mindset means you want to improve; you want to perform better than you did before now. When team members participate with a learner and growth mindset, they ask great questions that lead to thinking objectively, creating solutions, and relating in a win-win way. Approaching a situation as a learner allows everyone to be more open to new possibilities and ask questions more effectively. Team members who have a learner and growth mindset when it comes to difficulty or change will pose such questions as:
    • What possibilities does this open-up?
    • What can we do about this?
    • What can we learn from this?
  2. Use a framework of powerful questions to focus your attention. Posing open ended and positive questions can encourage storytelling about successes you’ve had, prime the pump for creativity, and help people see the bigger possibilities that go beyond incremental tweaks to truly innovative solutions. Michael Marquardt, author of Leading with Questions, writes about “great questions.”  He suggests that great questions are selfless and support the work of the group by:
    • Creating deep reflection
    • Testing assumptions and causing individuals to explore their thoughts
    • Enabling the group to better view the situation
    • Opening doors to the mind
    • Leading to breakthrough thinking
      1. Discover What’s Working: What is already working? What is the data that is showing success? What is the story behind success?
      2. Leverage Knowledge of Previous Success: What is making it work? What caused this success? 
      3. Identify Challenges: What’s not working well? What about it is not working well? Is there a area where we fall short of our expectations?
      4. Clarify Goals to See if Everyone is on the Same Track: What are we trying to accomplish? What is our objective?
      5. Identify What’s in it for People: What are the benefits of accomplishing the objective?
      6. Imagine Possibilities & Take Action: What aspects of what is working can be used to find a solution? What limitations are we putting on our thinking? How else can we look at this? What patterns or trends do we see overtime? What can we do more, better or differently to move closer to our objective? What else do we need to know before we decide? What does success look like? What changes do we propose? Do the changes advance our goals?
      7. Implement the plan: As you implement, it is important to monitor and communicate progress continually. What data will we need to review and how often? How will we make sure the changes are working? Is it a short-term or long-term solution?
      8. See this as a Continuous Process: Go back to discovering what’s working to continue to improve. This framework of questions is meant to be used as a continuous process, the possibility of breakthrough ideas, or transformation, is enhanced. 
  3. Resources: Now that you have identified the specific capacity improvement you want to make, please usethe resources section in the specific dimension that matches your challenge area.



[1] Oakley, Ed and Krug, Doug, Leadership Made Simple. (2006). Enlightened Leadership Publications.

[2] Marquardt, Michael. (2005). Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.