Dealing with the imperfection of OD

In one of my last posts, I dwelt on the natural imperfection of the OD endeavour.

Unlike the OD product vendor who sells a cock-and-bull story about the results that can be “delivered” by the application of his/her OD product (such as the 2 hour Wow-Wow Post Merger Integration Module), the OD practitioner who provides a professional service is faced providing an imperfect service (by nature).

Here are a few tips, based on ideas that I have used which I have found to be helpful.

1) In your Sales effort with new clients, emphasize the senior managers and successful organizations with whom you have worked over time; avoid focusing on what you know how to do and/or deliver.

2) Negotiating with corporate procurement (whose role is to nail down the vendor down with a clear statement of deliverables) needs to be avoided at all costs. Your internal client should be your interface to Procurement. If the client cannot do so, then you are probably working with someone too junior to do any meaningful work anyway.

3) Goals of the OD intervention need to be constantly reassessed; as a matter of fact, the ongoing reassessment of goals in a major achievement of the OD process!

4) Avoid the use of all measurement tools to evaluate OD work. OD interventions have huge impact; none of them can be isolated and measured.

5) Contractually, ensure that it is easy to fire you. This can take lots of heat away off defining success criteria of a project.

6) Admit mistakes and do so as they happen. Model how imperfection can be used as a powerful development tool.

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