As I mentioned in a previous post, I came from a very traditional Organization Development background. Over the years, I became convinced that OD`s western ethnocentric bias negatively impacts its effectiveness in a non western and global organizational configuration.
The `wake up call`I got about traditional OD was not gradual. Three events really shook me up, accelerating my thought process about the need for a global version of OD.
I shall share them with you in this post.
1) In a group discussion with security personnel in the Mid East, I ask a question. The participants clarified among themselves (in Arabic, which I speak) who is the oldest participant. He answered my question first; all other participants aligned with what he said.
2) In Beijing, I ask a question and the managing director gives an inaccurate answer. I then solicit other answers, which are better than the answer that the MD gave me. I congratulate the person who gave me the `best“ answer. I lost the MD`s trust for a long time.
3) I facilitated a “lessons learned“ between Dutch management and Japanese customer service folks about a major crash at a client site. The level of emotion was very high, since a lot of business had been lost because of this incident. I laid out `ground rules“ for the discussion which included: No Defensive Behaviour. Once I showed that bullet, the Japanese did not trust me.
A facilitator with a global orientation will ask less questions because of the complexity inserted by honorific based issues; furthermore, the consultant will accept that only via a lot of defensive and opaque communication can issues be ferreted out.