You sure don’t need this blog to tell you that the context in which Organizational Development is practised is changing:
- people have become spare parts making our humanistic focus an uphill battle.
- rapid change is just getting faster, making organizational change inhumane; this has grown the business of “change management” and shrunk available business for more classical OD types.
- globalization is all over us, making the Western values of OD often irrelevant.
- the HR function is degraded to compliance and hire/fire, and OD’s former gateway to organizations is contaminated,
- the twisted character of the manager who gets the top in this new reality, make the prognosis of their understanding OD’s added value as poor.
- and the inroads of the false Messiah of quick fixes, aka, the Coaching “profession”,making competition cut throat.
Given the above, what are the areas of expertise we need to survive as OD consultants, without cross dressing as coaches or change managers with a humanistic streak?
Here are 3 areas which come to mind.
1) Cross cultural competence.
Huge portions of this blog site are dedicated to how to acquire cross cultural competence and I shall not expand on this here. An example in this link.
2) Business Domain Knowledge
Domain specific content and context is absolutely necessary not only for face validity, but also in order to ensure relevance.Gone are the days when OD consultants can facilitate change in all domains, simply because we focus on process and people and systems.
Personally, I focus on high tech organizations which develop products quickly, medical devices, the interfaces between R&D, engineering and product management, financial services and professional services. My domain level of understanding is enough that I really get the gist of what is going on, end-to-end.
I believe that without this domain specific knowledge of the clients served, you are a has been.
3) Cognitive and Behavioural Patterns of Various Professions
Finance people, engineers, software developers, chemists, lawyers, system engineers and accountants all think and act quite differently in organizations. While within each profession there is vast variance, each profession has a code which OD needs to crack in order to be able to interact and gain trust.
It is unreasonable to expect an OD consultant to be “fluent” and capable of interacting with all professions with the same level of competence.
OD needs to map out the cognitive and behavioural patterns of the various professions and provide ways and means to “gain access” by speaking our language in their dialect.
- These 3 skills are part of the foundation for the next generation of competent OD consultants. These skills will provide OD with a competitive advantage, create more customer intimacy, and enable OD practitioners to be more relevant and effective in the niches in which they operate.