Because of the Western bias of Organization Development, OD’s concepts, values and tools are inappropriate to many of issues impacting global organizations.
Nevertheless OD conferences pay only minor lip service to Global OD. Books, articles and many web sites dedicated to OD ignore the irrelevancy of the OD profession to problems of global organizing.
Conferences and books recycle the same traditional old crap repackaged in new slogans; alternatively, folks reminisce about the good old days. (We call this in Hebrew-anu banu-we came and we built, i.e., thoughtless reminiscence which leads nowhere.)
There is an expression in Chinese 哑巴吃饺子,心里有数 which means “When a mute person eats some dumplings, he knows how many he has eaten, albeit he cannot speak. In other words, people know how much irrelevance is bombarded at them by the old guard, they just do not speak up. Why? Because the old guard controls the keys to the palace. The palace may be crumbling, but they have the keys…the keys to keynotes, the keys to budgets, the keys to the house of lords.
OD conferences are good for networking, but little else. In other words, we all know that besides networking, conferences have minimal value. New content is not provided, but no one says anything. And few OD books really innovate anything new, except new tools for a crumbling paradigm. The old OD guard is trying to ensure that OD stays at it is. At most, practitioners need some cultural skills.
However it is OD itself that needs to be modified.
Imagine that OD stopped perfuming the pig and dedicated a conference to concrete steps that need to be taken to make OD relevant in global organizations.
This is what 5 sessions might look like:
1) Root Canal 101: Breaking Away from the Founding Fathers
With all due respect, organizational reality has changed radically since OD’s founding fathers first murmured their ideas. This lecture will spell out why traditional OD is irrelevant in the domain of global organizations. The lecturer will draw parallels between Traditional OD in the global workplace, and other forms of cultural, economic and linguistic colonial behaviour.
2) Organization diagnosis in discrete and face saving cultures
3) A culturally contingent role of OD Consultant:
Expert, Mediator, Enabler, Masked Executive
4) Retooling OD:
What are the alternatives to team interventions, ways and means of by-passing the need for direct communication, and how and when to work “offstage”.
5) Managing the Major Polarities in Global OD
-openness and discretion
-involvement and stability
-respect and change
-ascription and achievement
The reason that Global OD conferences like this do not take place is that power elite in OD does not have a clue about these topics. As a result, OD conferences are planned by looking into the rear view mirror to preserve the power of the elite.