Avoid using these 3 OD religious tenets in Global Organizations

Readers of this blog know that the stubborn author keeps harping on the need to adapt Organization Development to the complexities of global organizations.

Presently, I am working on a book ten exercises which will expand the capabilities of the OD practitioner to be effective not only in a parochial western organization, but also in global organizations.

Writing a book is not writing blog, and I keep forcing myself to focus on “what are the key messages that I want to make “, so as not to drive my readers crazy, like my satirical character Comrade Carl Marks.

By asking that question of myself day after day in the course of writing my book, I seemed to have also arrived at the major points I want to make in all the posts in this entire blog. So here they are:

While the tenets of OD are applicable to western organizations, their application to global organizations are ill appropriate. 3 major religious tents of OD need to be avoided, in alignment with cultural humility

  1. Avoid unpleasant interactions stemming from the authentic and open “management” of conflict. Deal with conflict discretely, quietly and try to work around it.
  2. Avoid “open and authentic” feedback, when the feedback is seen as damaging cohesion and diminishing face. Use non verbal clues and back-door obtuse communication.
  3. Avoid use of semi-structured meetings with free flowing communication when this will embarrass people who prefer to express discretely matters of importance . Prefer one on one, face to face, more structured communication.


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Four questions to determine if a candidate has global literacy.

Several times each month, I interview people who are candidates for roles which have a large degree to of global exposure to vastly different cultures. Clients ask me to provide an assessment of the candidate’s global literacy and a suggested coaching plan where relevant.

I generally ask 12 questions. I will share 4 of these questions with my readers. For these interested in what I consider “global literacy”, here is a link to another post.

1) Describe what you think are the biases of your own culture, and how do they impact the way you manage conflict, communication and teamwork.

2) Describe 2-3  behavioural patterns of other cultures which you find most challenging to deal with and explain.

3)  Respect is a term that many cultures use, yet often it means different things to different people. Explain how you would show respect, differently, to various populations that you work with.

4) How do you go about establishing trust in a society with an insider-outsider dynamic?