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By Timothy Bentley

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The Goldilocks Scale For 360

12 March 2019

by Timothy Bentley

Last time I described the Cinematic rating scale for feedback that can run from 1 to 10 (or less). 

Today here’s a different approach: the Goldilocks scale. 

Remember when Goldilocks broke into the home of the three bears, she avoided porridge that was too cold or too hot, and the bed that was too soft or too hard. 

She chose the one that was "just right". 

Similarly, the Goldilocks scale tells people whether they are exhibiting too little or too much of behavior – or just the right amount. 

It does this by displaying minus and positive numbers. For instance:  -3,  -2,  -1,  0,  1,  2,  3.  

The mid-point, zero, is "just right". 

An eloquent champion is Panoramic Feedback distributor Scott Borland. 

Here’s the problem he sees with the Cinematic (or Likert) scale: "There is no way to acknowledge when a behavior is over-utilized, to the detriment of the Subject and those with whom they interact."  

For instance, does a 10 score  signify ‘very much’ (good) or ‘too much’ (bad).  

"Some leadership behaviors that are overused can be detrimental,” he notes. “For example, a leader may be very effective in leading and supporting change. However, if the leader uses this strength to continually revamp processes where there may not be a business need to change, there can be drawbacks. Examples might include the need for continual (and time-consuming) retraining for staff, or disruptive updates for clients." 

Equally, responses at the lower end don't necessarily provide actionable information. "If a manager receives an 'ineffective' rating," he asks, "does that mean they should do more, or less, of the specific behavior?" 

Borland prefers the Goldilocks scale, where zero means “just right; keep doing it”. 

He notes that the results may make leaders “more receptive to their 360 results, since the new scale appears to be less about overall score and more about doing more, or less, in relation to specific behaviors." 

The one downside (and it’s true of odd-numbered Likert scales too) is that it encourages a lazy responder to click the middle number for all questions.  

The moral of the story: base your choice of scale - Goldilocks or Cinematic – on the information needs of your particular Subjects.

Timothy Bentley is Chief Operating Officer of Panoramic Feedback.