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Developing Operational Definitions

Basics
Should provide:

  • A working definition with enough detail that it could be operationalized (put into action).
    • This usually requires narrowing down certain aspects by being more specific in the definition.
    • It also usually includes setting some standard of achievement.
  • Fit within a reasonable interpretation of the board’s policy (not extending beyond it or being so narrow as to not really address the fullness of the issue).
  • Has to be testable. Enough detail is provided such that it could be put into action and then tested for whether or not it was working.

From an employee’s Eyes

  • Looking at the policy language, what else would I need to know about (have futher defined) from the CEO in order to actually design and implement a system or process to deal with it that would meet their broadest expectations?

From the Board Assessor’s Eyes
There are a number of assessments they typically must make:

  • Is an operational definition provided (enough detail, see how it impacts the organization, testable).
  • Is the definition reasonable?
    • Does it fit within the range set in the policy and does it cover a broad enough range of circumstances so as to represent what the policy suggests?
    • Is a source or rationale provided which helps me assess its reasonableness?
  • Is there a way to measure whether or not it is working?
  • Does the data actually show that the standard of achievement is being met?