Use of self in OD

“Use of self” is a key advantage that Organizational Development has in facilitating organizational change.

Use of self simply means combining OD knowledge and skills education  along with leveraging aspects of ones personality traits, behaviour, value systems, and culture as part of OD practice.

Use of self allows the OD practitioner to work on and work through the unseen world of emotional undercurrents as well as other hidden dynamics impacting organizational life. This perspective provides a phenomenal  advantage over the absurdly  mechanistic world of Change Management and the pathetic cheerleading efforts of many “semi-skilled“ HR departments which dabble in change.

So far so good.

The challenge begins if use of self negatively impacts the practitioner, because of the practitioners’ own cultural bias, especially in global organizations.

Let’s take an example.

A (product manager)  and B (sales) are upset with one another, although they pretend to get along well. A is pressuring B to coax a client to buy a new feature. B wants A to ensure feature completion so that B does not ruin his career by selling something he cannot deliver.

Consultant Z wants to develop genuine and authentic dialogue between A and B, leveraging the positive relationship Z has with both. When positive dialogue has been established between A&B, they will figure out a compromise.

Consultant Y wants to ensure that A&B continue to sidestep the conflict between them, so that they can pretend get along well. Y believes that if A & B were to express the differences of opinion between them openly, no good will come to their relationship. Y is convinced that B, an 55 year old male from a conservative society will never accept the input from a 24 year old female product manager from a western society.

So Y wants to serve as a go between so that A&B do not need to interact on this sensitive issue.


At present, Z’s behaviour is aligned with positive use of self in OD, because OD is bogged down in western values.

If OD embraced more non western values,  Y’s choices would becomes a legitimate strategy as well.

Until that happens, use of self provides no advantage in the world of global organizing.

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