What do clients ask for… that OD cannot provide?

An OD projected cannot be ‘scoped’ like a delusional change management plan or a project to refurnish the 2nd floor.

The workings of an OD project only become clear over time, and attempts to add get clarity at the initial stages results putting the OD into a straight jacket, focused in the wrong direction.

However,OD service providers, aka “vendors” are asked to provide unavailable information about the OD projects scope. This phenomenon occurs  in dealing with  insecure HR manager, a “barracuda” Procurement officer,or an organization dominated by an ERP which has replaced the human brain.

3 examples will suffice:

1) Define the  Plan

OD projects do not follow a plan very well, because

  • people are “open source”,
  • changes in circumstance cannot be factored into the plan
  • that is the nature of the OD beast

Our projects are much more like civil engineering infrastructure projects in terms of planning accuracy: i.e., way way off initial “scope of work.”

2) Define the Outcome

Let’s say that an OD project was commissioned to improve the interface between Sales and Service.

And let’s say that after 5 months, we learn that the Head of Sales is vastly more powerful than the Head of Service in resource procurement.

And let’s say that  the CEO knows this, but does not want to act because the CEO is retiring in 6 months, and the Head of Sales has the ear of someone on the Board who calls the shots after the CEO leaves.

So I ask you, how can the OD “vendor” define the outcome up front, whilst dealing with a Gloria, the HR manager everyone has nightmares about..

3) Will the OD process be “disruptive”?

Most OD products are not disruptive, because they are irrelevant or nonsense. Most OD projects are disruptive, because they undo before they do. Certainly informing Sarah Barracuda from Procurement or Gloria from HR about this disruption is not to the benefit of winning business.

The truth is that OD projects are very hard to plan, the outcome becomes clear only after a few months, and OD needs to be disruptive. To make an omelette, you need to break a few eggs.

Go tell that to Gloria Ramsbottom from HR or Sarah Barracuda from Procurement.


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5 thoughts on “What do clients ask for… that OD cannot provide?

  1. Allon,

    Yup! You’ve nailed this! Thanks for articulating what we ‘older’ folks know and don’t always admit. And, we do have to admit (even to ourselves) that there is a great difference between ‘getting’ the business and ‘doing’ the business.

  2. Our biggest problem comes with contracting through those two “made up” clients. They are not the owners and will be of little help with the “disruption”. Procurement has sanded down the influence, effects and results for consultants/consulting.

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