Can OD be useful in all forms of change? Allon elaborates on a question from John Scherer

For years, Dr. John Scherer prodded me to write a blog (and a book), and thus any request from my friend John comes to the top of the pack.

In my previous post, I pointed out some of the contextual features of the environment in which OD operates; John Scherer has asked me to elaborate.
I wrote “rapid change is just even  getting faster, making organizational change inhumane; this has grown the business of “change management” and shrunk available business for more classical OD types.”


1) In medicine, some tumours are inoperable.
2) In law, while anyone can be defended, the legal profession  realizes that in some cases, defending someone is a mere formality.
3) Paramedics who arrive at a massive  terror attack (like Dolphinarium attack in Tel Aviv) first choose who needs to die, so that available paramedic resources are used to save lives.

Now, lets move from the metaphor to the case at hand.

1) OD needs to operate in a playing field where our profession (with its humanistic basis)  is relevant. Not all organizational changes meet this criteria.

2) Rapid change which dehumanizes organizations should not  be the domain OD; dehumanizing change is the domain of a defanged HR (which has lost its way) and  Change Management, which has a ready made productized template for everything under the sun. OD has no value for an organization which undergoes 3 mergers in a year. Similarly, when a Board tells a CEO to close a US based R&D center with 600 people in 2 quarters and open a new R&D center in Bangalore “whilst keeping customers and staff happy”, OD has nothing to offer. This type of brutal change is best handled by HR managers like  Gloria Ramsbottom.

3) OD cannot be effective in all change situations. OD needs to be able to say “not in our domain”-and this will make OD far more effective and far more respected. When we peddle our wares in very rapid and inhuman change situations, we make  mockery of who we are.

4) OD is applicable to changes where OD can be loyal to its humanistic roots; not all clients suit that bill. Furthermore, change which is too fast and too brutal is  out of the ballpark or playing field on which we play.