Why do some OD consultants whore?


In her book about severely ill  mental health patients “Falling into the Fire”,  Dr Christine Montross illustrates how the psychiatrists  come to resent these patients who make them feel so inadequate. As Montross points out, this deadly dynamic works to the severe  detriment of the very people who need help the most.

In organization development, a parallel exists. Managers and organizations can present huge challenges to the feeling of competence of the OD practitioner, especially since 2008 when the shit hit the fan and people became more of a commodity than an important  resource, challenging OD’s basic assumptions.

Whilst psychiatrists tend to blame their patients, OD professionals tend to try and please their clients by pimping and whoring pre-packaged nonsense, useless tips and empty models and promises. The rational behind the whoring is not merely commercial. It is driven by a feeling of “if I do the right thing, I will be branded as incompetent by the idiot client, and fired for the wrong reasons.”

OD was not always about pleasing sycophant HR managers and narcissist CEO’s. My generation grew up trained to confront the client and challenge basic assumptions.

And if you are skilled and fear not, it is still possible to do a good job. I have encountered clients who make me believe that I would feel better had I participated in the boxing match between  Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, known as the Thrilla in Manilla rather than consulting them. But I try and stick to a core OD value -speak truth to power.

Let’s not forget the famous words of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav-all the world is but a narrow bridge, and most important of all is to fear not. (kol ha olam kulo, gesher tsar mod, vhaiqar, lo lefached klal)

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14 thoughts on “Why do some OD consultants whore?

  1. Allon,

    Great article.

    A problem today with speaking truth to power is that the meaning of “truth” has become so diluted – especially in OD.

    When OD started, it recognized that not everyone could be a decision maker. Now, so many in OD promote the idea that the inmates can run the asylum.

    Sad. Really Sad.

    Cordially,

    Ed
    Drive On!

  2. Why do some OD consultants whore?

    Perhaps for the money or for the same reason that the heathen rage. (Psalm 2)

  3. Well, Allon, you bring forth a sad truth. Few are the consultants who are actually skilled in requesting and dealing with “bring your real issues in real time involving the web of those who really matter in those issues”. Hence, we still see consultants selling the “diversity sensitivity program” to the CEO who can then check one of the boxes in the recommendations list measuring success by the number of clicks on the web based training.

    When Boldoni completed his post 2008 research, consultants came up as the second most mistrusted group behind North American executives. They were seen by the respondents from around the world as having contributed to the events of 2008.

    When “who you are as the intervention” is replaced by “my program as the intervention”, we start fusing our being with our doing, i.e. Whoring.
    Lévis

  4. Consultants are working as though they were contractors doing what is asked for before even knowing the problem with the main goal being to get in and get out and get well paid just like the rest of the marketing shysters out there. I had one client tell me that if the consultant doesn’t have a glitzy brochure she wouldn’t hire them.

    Messaging has taken over substance – result – Trump!
    Gita

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