Let’s look at OD like developers, not application engineers

One of the lessons I have learnt in my decades of OD work with high tech companies is that the “next generation” of products and services does not usually emerge from the same people/teams working on the present breadwinner.

A power structure develops around breadwinning products  whose role it is to preserve the centrality of the mind sets and skill sets which gain value from the breadwinners’  predominance. Hence, new ideas which challenge the current paradigm are often resisted.

The same phenomenon effects OD. The current version of OD is “stuck”, yet protected by the dominant practitioners, gurus and universities who benefit from the present versions of OD.

OD will not renew itself by gawking at the past or fiddling around with new packaging of old ideas, nor via peddling “applications” based on the same “core code” of the old OD, a professional dominated from day one by western values and western assumptions about human behaviour.

There are several core issues that can hasten the “realignment of OD with future reality”.

   1-The acutely diverse nature of the global organization which simply cannot adapt itself to western values. (openness, authenticity, personal development, empowerment)

   2-The massive dysfunction stemming from a severe overdose of IT driven business processes. (At present, OD cross dresses as change managers, ramming these processes into place).

   3-The alienation of the soul in the work place. (The engagement products which OD provides to deal with this are a pathetic bad joke)

Next generation OD will not be conceived in universities. My experience is that learning OD in academia is almost useless, at best. Nor will OD be reinvented by most current practitioners, who serve as “application engineers”, administering OD products, often mindlessly. naively, cynically or out of self preservation.

I believe that OD can benefit from emulating other professions which focus on anticipating future needs, not serve as an order taker for elixirs which address current aches and pains. In other words, renewing OD is an exercise in system architecture, not engineering.

These are very initial thoughts, and I will modify this post as my thoughts become clearer.


8 thoughts on “Let’s look at OD like developers, not application engineers

  1. Once, many years ago, I suggested to the head of OD at a large pharmaceuticals firm that what was needed was a “values-free” version of OD. He shook his head in disbelief. In any case, there is or there isn’t some universal set of values. If there is, OD could operate under that values umbrella. If there isn’t, there will have to be various iterations of OD operating under various values umbrellas. In the case of “Global OD,” what set of values applies there?

  2. So .. to work the metaphor.. in the future is OD a cross dresser, a transvestite, transgender, or asexual? More seriously – this blog raises important questions and suggestions, as always.

  3. Wow, Allon. If I can get past the language you use here, which I find quite harsh, I question exactly whether/how you are in OD and whether you speak of a uselessness of academia from experience. It certainly does not come across that way, at least to me. It sounds to me more like you feel stuck and are somehow putting the blame on OD? Skimming through other blog articles, this appears to be a theme. What up with that?

    I think you express some seeds of truth, but they barely break open through what I interpret as an attitude of detest.

  4. Does Disney have OD people? Were they involved in the explosive story below? What was done at the House of da Mouse and other malefactors described in the story would appear to have been facilitated by “realigned” OD people in cahoots with post modern HR execs like Gloria Ramsbottom.


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