OD is also about NOT changing

Somehow and somewhere along the line, Organization Development became linked to change and changing. Of course there is nothing wrong with this at all; facilitating change is a major pillar of our profession.

But not the only pillar. In organizations (as is the case in everyday life), there is often a need to adapt, accept a given context  and/or boundary conditions, and not change. I shall provide a few examples.

If the average shelf time of a material engineer in your industry is 2 years before he (or even she) leaves a company and moves on to another company, it is very unlikely that one company can fight this trend, whatever means they take. The best strategy would be to adapt and expect the same thing to happen in your firm.

If one of fifty purchasing agents is on the take, and you have 150 purchasing agents, you probably need to assume you have not bucked the trend even if you comb new recruits with a fine tooth comb.

When working with a 30 year old as opposed to working with a 60 year old, the degree of the need for an “adapt” strategy is like to go up as age increases.

If most of your clients are willing to accept a “great” product’s temporary bugs, a Japanese client probably will not-despite your belief that the quality of your technology can diminish the Japanese attention to perfection.

OD professionals tend to optimism and “yes we can”. And that is not a bad thing. But it can be awfully naive. Furthermore, lots of reorganizations (a very common change) are merely shoveling the shit from one corner to another-ie, much ado about nothing

You owe it to your clients to help understand what cannot be changed. My guess is that the willingness of the consultant to do so is related to the culture of consultant, with “yes we can” “roaders” being far more willing to fantasize about changing the world.


Perhaps some people believe that if your neighbour wants to kill you, the best thing to do is sign a piece of paper and make peace. Personally, I think it’s best to believe my neighbour’s stated intentions, and “rise and kill first”. But that’s an aside.











Share Button