Why some global organizations buy simple and useless productized OD “solutions” for complex problems

The cooking class post of a few days ago illustrated the purchasing of a simple and useless solution for a complex problem. My Gloria Blog provides many examples of this.

While many organizations do handle problems of global organizing  appropriately by leveraging OD, this post will relate to reasons why lots of companies do the wrong thing.

1) OD has become productized, having migrated from solution-based projects. This is good for large consulting firms who can then hire new college graduates who learn to “administer” the products quickly.The firms charge high prices using their brand name, and “clip a coupon”.

2) The death of professional standards has been replaced by commercial standards, i.e., making the client “happy”. This client is often from HR or represented by HR. Threatened by their low status and the derivate need to perky and pleasing, the HR manager wants wow results from nifty products. This is even worse if the consultant is hired by Training.

3) Many inexperienced global organizations want “one size fits all”, because they do not understand the need to differentiate between a shared “core” and specialized applications. For example, the core may be “we want transparency”: this should NOT lead to “running better meetings”, because information is not shared in meetings in many parts of the world.

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5 thoughts on “Why some global organizations buy simple and useless productized OD “solutions” for complex problems

  1. AMEN to this one, Allon. . . Sad but true, especially in Central/Eastern Europe where we have been consulting these past few years. Often any attempt to ‘work our way up the causal chain’ to speak with the person who actually owns the problem or situation is directly blocked or politely side-tracked by the HR or Training person who has been tasked by that owner to ‘find us a solution (vendor)’. The result: nobody gets what is needed. . .

  2. We have no one but ourselves to blame. Where are our professional standards? We haven’t bothered to identify our field because 1) we all come from different backgrounds into OD, 2) no one can agree on them, 3) we argue too much over what they are or could be, and / or 4) customers are supposed to somehow know by osmosis what we OD specialists REALLY do. And some on the ODN list are iconoclastic and not members of ODN anyway. And the scholars are writing about other stuff (as Christopher Worley has pointed out in the past), and no one on the ODN list likes to read the scholars. And the scholars don’t write on the ODN list…

    Let’s not lament too loudly. If we weren’t OD specialists, what would we expect of the professional field of OD? Where’s our body of knowledge? Where is the code of ethics that we are all to sign? What certifications do we show for our expertise? And you can choose to revisit here what we argue time and again on the OD Network list, but let me say in advance, I’ve heard it before. And … so what? We are just going to sit here and watch the field dissipate? As Roland Sullivan said lately on the ODN list, big consulting firms are taking “our stuff” and running with it and making a killing … duh! Organizations need change management expertise.

    What would we advise a client like us? Let’s shift the lens … As Charlie Seashore used to say … Self as agent … Let’s rally the agency on our own behalf …

    Best regards,

  3. Yes, amen to that Allon. I am afraid many on both the client and the consultant side are not really prepared to address the complexity of human relations. A simple mechanistic project will address the problem du jour because who has the time to really take a serious look at the whole situation! It is a lot easier to “use” human resources as externalities, then complain employees are not motivated.

  4. I cannot think of a time in human history when people wanted to address human relations. Today we have a greater capacity (due to many factors, technology being one but not all) to seek the quick answer. We prefer a pill that heals today over a process that improved health over the long term, we want short term solutions in personal and in business life. Money today, returns on investment today. And so any intervention which might suggest a longer term effort is shunned. Change, even change we intentionally seek takes place over time not in a week. But this does not sell in Peoria.

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