tapping into tech

New leadership assessment platform developed in Houston helps nurture top talent

CDR Assessment Group's CDR-U platform is taking executive training to help grow and develop talent at every level. Photo courtesy of CDR

What if executive training and professional development didn't just reach the C-suite? A business management company is tapping into tech to bring quality leadership assessments and coaching to all levels with its latest product.

CDR Assessment Group plans to help employees grow at their work, overcome stressors, and increase diversity in management within the workplace with its recently launched CDR-U platform.

"The vision was to extend a deep level of self awareness to all employees," explains Nancy Parsons, president of CDR Assessment Group.

For more than 20 years, the company has developed in-depth assessments and coaching. CDR Assessment Group has now adapted its existing three-pronged CDR 3-D Assessment Suite into CDR-U, a program available to employees throughout an entire company.

According to the company, entry-level employees and mid-level managers make up 85 percent of the workforce. Employers who solely focus on C-suite executives leave behind a majority of their workforce. CDR-U targets these individuals with personalized, AI-style coaching that can be accessed at any time of the day.

"It's really exciting because through this process, now people can really get in touch with their strengths and gifts to a nuanced level. It's not like a Myers Briggs or a DISC, it goes way deeper than that," explains Parsons.

CDR-U features three assessments that ask a series of questions to determine the character, drivers and rewards, as well as the risks of each employee. Rather than a simple report, the program will then offer a personalized debriefing using an AI avatar the employee can choose, which explains the results and coaches the employee through an individualized process.

"The graphics are from your actual results. It's not some generic thing up on the screen," shares Parsons, "We just wanted it to feel like they were being talked to by something that's as close to human as we could get."

After the debrief, employees can access CDR-U's Developmental Action Planning Module to help employees assess their risks "on a deeper level" and "formulate a plan," explains Parsons.

Nancy Parsons is the president of CDR Assessment Group. Photo courtesy of CDR

To Parsons, self awareness is key. "You would be shocked at how often people are not really in touch with some of their best strengths. They certainly don't know the risks and careers go off track quickly," she says, "It's so important that people really know themselves at this level so that they're not under-utilizing strengths."

Understanding themselves also helps employees to "do what they love so they can really enjoy their work," she explains.

At a time when the American workforce has been relegated to a work-from-home model, Parsons feels that the coronavirus pandemic has employees feeling detached. "We're often more stressed or our risks are probably showing more and we feel detachedwe feel cut off from our team," she shares, "It's a way to give people some real reassurance."

If team members are feeling especially down, companies can share CDR-U data and create team debriefs to help them through.

"I think it's more important now because people are stressed, they are kind of depressed and this is a way to pull them back," says Parsons.

Aside from a health pandemic, the United States is also experiencing increased racial tensions around the country. Business Insider reports that as companies are speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, some have poor records of diversity and inclusion in their own workplaces. Corporations like Adidas, Estée Lauder Companies, Facebook, and PepsiCo are just a few of the many organizations making actionable pledges to hire and promote BIPOC within its organization, according to the New York Times.

Women have also been historically marginalized in the workplace, with McKinsey's Women in the Workplace 2019 report showing that "women continue to be underrepresented at every level."

When using data from CDR-U, racial and gender biases are no longer in the picture. "This is the best diversity tool out there because the data is race and gender-neutral. This way we can stop screening out so many women and minorities because their true talent will shine through," explains Parsons. As a scientifically-validated and neutral assessment, businesses have the ability to identify potential leaders who may be overlooked due to human biases.

"It's an objective measure against the rest of the population. It is a self-questionnaire—nobody is rating you. It's a snapshot or a fingerprint of who you are," she shares.

Parsons hopes to help people identify their strengths, stay engaged, and find the path that is best for them.

"When people are able to work in harmony congruently with what's best about them, it's going to change the dynamics of organizations and leadership. . .That's why I'm doing this," she says.

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Building Houston

 
 

Koda Health, Houston, uses AI to help guide difficult conversations in health care, starting with end-of-life care planning. Image via kodahealthcare.com

A new Houston-based digital advanced care planning company is streamlining some of the most difficult conversations in the health care industry around palliative care.

Founded by Tatiana Fafanova, Dr. Desh Mohan, and Katelin Cherry, Koda Health uses AI to help patients create advance medical care directives and documents—such as a living will—through an easy to use web-based interface.

Koda Health uses a conversational platform where users can enter information about their values, living situations, quality of life wishes, and more while learning about different care options at their own speed. It also uses a proprietary machine learning approach that personalizes audio-video guided dialogue based on the patient's individual and cultural preferences.

The app then autogenerates legal and medical documents, which patients can notarize or electronically witness the forms through the app or on their own.

According to Fafanova, who earned her PhD in in Molecular Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and now acts as the company's CEO, what historically has been a time consuming and expensive process, through Koda Health, takes an average of 17 minutes and is completely free of charge to the end user.

"We hope to reduce any outstanding barriers to access that might exist," Fafanova says. "It is very frequently the oldest and the poorest that are the highest utilizers of health care that don't have access to these solutions."

The app is also projected to save health care systems roughly $9,500 per patient per year, as it allows for hospitals and organizations to better plan for what their patient population is seeking in end-of-life-care.

The B2B platform was born out of the TMC's Biodesign Fellowship, which tasked Koda's founding members with finding solutions to issues surrounding geriatric care in the medical center. In March 2020, Koda incorporated. Not long after ICU beds began to fill with COVID-19 patients, "galvanizing" the team's mission, Fafanova says.

"It was no longer this conceptual thing that we needed to address and write a report on. Now it was that people were winding up in the hospital at alarming rates and none of those individuals had advanced care planning in place," she says.

After accelerating the development of the product, Koda Health is now being used by health care systems in Houston, Texas, and Virginia.

The company recently received a Phase I grant of $256,000 from the National Science Foundation, which will allow Koda to deploy the platform at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and test it against phone conversations with 900 patients. Fafanova says the company will also use the funds to continue to develop personalization algorithms to improve Kona's interface for users.

"We want to make this a platform that mimics a high quality conversation," she says.

After Koda completes the Phase I pilot program it will then be eligible to apply for a Phase II award of up to $1 million in about a year.

Koda Health was founded by Tatiana Fafanova, Dr. Desh Mohan, and Katelin Cherry. Photos via kodahealthcare.com

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