Power Games within the Organization Development Community

Because of the Western bias of Organization Development, OD’s concepts, values and tools are inappropriate in global organizing.

Global OD is a platform which enables various cultures to work together to get things done without cultural imposition of OD’s western ways.

Once global OD’s appropriateness is accepted, a lot of western OD interventions done today will be akin to  “bloodletting” to treat a headache.

I have lectured on Global OD in  Vancouver, London, Hong Kong, Munich, Paris and Tel Aviv. My presentations are always well attended and lively. But nevertheless, the plenary sessions of these conventions where I lecture are always about mainstream OD, given by people from the established school of OD. I am a  bizarre character from who will present……a sideshow! I am “Side Show Bob”, the character from the Simpsons. No need to worry; mainstream OD is in control.

Imagine what it means if indeed I am correct about Global OD’s relevance and Western OD’s inappropriateness in global organizations? 

It means that there is a Western OD power establishment which can (and will) be replaced with people who have the skills to do OD appropriately in a global organizations, without ramming western values down peoples’ throats, to  be polite.

Global OD’s will  detract from Western OD’s dominance of “the truth”. The Western OD establishment is not quite ready for that. For example, on the ODN list,  I felt that I was constantly alienating main streamers by my ranting about Global OD.  I was seen as not civil enough, an instigator with style issues. I  did not promote Global OD in a nice enough manner. I spoke my truths, without being so damn f—king nice.They got angry and I left.

Nowadays, many folks on LinkedIn try to co-opt my ideas saying that they are all for cultural awareness. (Global OD is about acting differently, NOT cultural awareness.)

In retrospect, some of the resistance to my ideas is content- based and a lot of the resistance is based on OD opinion leaders clinging to their power. They cling to the paradigms in which they are comfortable.

Were I to organize a OD conference, many of the classical OD interventions would not even get a slot as a side show, because of their antiquity and inappropriateness. Applying Western OD to global organizations is preposterous, and Western OD opinions leaders have a lot to lose if I am right.

Follow me @AllonShevat


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8 thoughts on “Power Games within the Organization Development Community

  1. Allon
    It is unfortunate that you cannot join the ISODC conference in Amsterdam in July. I think you will find that the conference, the people, and the overall theme of the meetings will be consistent with your Global OD approach. I agree with you completely and have had the same experiences when criticizing Western OD. Keep up your efforts– we need a Global OD approach to replace the ethnocentric and limited approaches developed and maintained in Western OD.


  2. What I am hearing you say is that the difference between cultural awareness and Global OD is akin to the difference between geometrical awareness and the “discovery” of earth as being round.

  3. Allon, I feel that you make some good points regarding the Western-Centric view of OD. It would be interesting to actually have a “dialogue” rather than a “discussion” on your views. As Jerry Glover states, it would be good if you could join us in Amsterdam in July. There you would have an oportunity to share your views with OD practitioners from Africa, Europe, the Pacific Rim. Perhaps another ISODC conference will attract you to attend.

  4. “… a lot of western OD interventions done today will be akin to “bloodletting” to treat a headacheI” What a very challenging and unsettling thought Allon which resonates in ways I’m not sure I know how to handle.

    I too would love to know more about what your conference might look like.



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