In this post I want to characterize a type of client who should, by the look of things, be user friendly to OD, but is not! Quite the opposite-this type of client is often among the hardest to work with. I am referring to clients which have what I shall call pseudo-sophisticated ideological veneer.
On this type of client’s website/hallway/elevator, there will be a mission statement, core values, and/or other accoutrements which lead us to believe the client is domain savvy. The values, mission or whatever are more likely than not almost religious tenets, serviced by HR and Training, who “teach” this religion, more often than not during initiation and management training, which tends to be “ideological”.
There may be a history of many OD consultants, who have come and gone. These consultants have been called in to provide expert knowledge, not in the domain of the HR/Training “ Corporate Curia” which peddle the ideology.
The issues encountered with such clients are:
1) The slogans, values, mission and other statements are top down religious beliefs which are “administered” by HR-Training-Glorias; thus the veneer.
2) The critical gap between the religion and reality is generally out-of-bounds for discussion
.3) This type of client often does not know that he does not know.The religion has provided him with a false sense of certainty. External OD consultants will be scrutinized by gatekeepers to ensure they do not bring in pragmatic and counter-culture ideas.
4) This type of client will treat you as a vendor of OD products, telling you exactly what he needs. Often you work to SOW, rendering the OD effort useless.(statement of work)