When we say that the need for respect is universal, what are we saying?

Helmut shows respect by keeping to schedule. Baharat from Mumbei shows respect by answering calls from his clients immediately, even when he is running a meeting. Moshe from Israel shows respect by giving you as much time as needed, ignoring the “formal” schedule he is supposed to be following. Paco shows a huge respect for people, yet their time is not a valued resource for Paco, so his US colleague Paul feels a huge lack of respect.

Daw from Huahin Thailand gives respect by never inconveniencing people with whom he works. In public meetings, he is courteous and tends to be amicable to all suggested directions, reserving his disagreements for a private conversation. He sees the gap between what he allows himself to say in public and private as giving a huge amount of respect.

Mark from St Paul gives respect by separating between people and issues. He can deliver a critique of an idea, but he never is critical of a person; he is careful to remain civil. Mark sees in civility the ultimate manifestation of respect.

Ngai Lam from Hong Kong shows respect by always being in her “professional” persona, concealing much of her emotions, expression of which may be seen as showing lack of respect for the work place.

Hank from Holland as well as Moti from Israel show respect by being blunt so that no one needs to guess what their intention is, which would be disrespecting and uncaring.

Olive from Germany and Oya from Japan show respect by a very formal use of language when addressing people who merit respect.

So when we say that the need for respect is universal, what are we saying?

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Are all key OD values shared globally? Are we cultural imperialists?

Look at the following list of key OD values which guide our profession as we supoort various change efforts.

  • Respect and Inclusion
  • Collaboration
  • Authenticity
  • Self-awareness
  • Empowerment

Are these values shared globally? As I see it, in many parts of the world, the guiding values are very different! For example:

  • Respect and Inclusion looks more like “Give face to boss and get face in return”
  • Collaboration looks more like “obedience or feigned obedience because there is “one tiger to a hill” and collaboration is seen as betrayal of authority.
  • Authenticity looks more like  “total control and repression of emotion as a desired state” and authenticity is weakness.
  • Self-awareness looks more like “appear” professional and collected at all times
  • Empowerment looks more like ” power is to be hoarded not shared” and empowerment means giving away a rare resource….ie, stupidity.

Imperialism is defined as a  policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force. Is OD as practiced cultural imperialism?

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Global OD-Lesson 22: a very diverse group of 11 people working together meets face to face once every two years. Here is what I suggest to do.

The 11 Participants:

Larry from London, Francois from Paris, Som from Thailand, Jean Marie from Montreal, KT from Bangalore, Paresh from Singapore, Mark from Vladivostok, Inbal from Israel, Oya from Tokyo, Corazon from Manila;  Gordon from Dublin manages the team.


The team develops and deploys real time software products for financial services. The team has business analysts, architects, software developers, sales and pre sales folks. The team has severe trust issues, unclear roles and responsibilities, infighting and their communication vacillates from guarded to flaming.

Team leader Gordon got budget for a 2 day offsite in Singapore to “straighten things up”. The team has not yet met face to face because until now, HR/Training had been deploying short webinars on team work, which had had no effect whatsoever.

Suggested content of the first meeting:

  • 25% relationship building

Relationship building is critical in a team in which cultural differences and geography drives such a wedge between the ability to cooperate. Relationship building is done by longer meals together, lots of time socializing with loosely and semi structured activity to encourage people to get to know one another.

  • 25% focus on  understanding how cultural differences impacts the specific tasks at hand

For example…Such a group much gets their hands around how they share risks instead of blame one another. Risk taking is deeply  impacted by culture. All folks must understand how each culture views risk taking and how people guard themselves against shame of failure.

  • 25% identifying a shared list of problem definitions

While Sales may define the issue as “lack of transparency” as to when the product is to be ready, development may define the problem as “too much wasted on reporting as opposed to working”. The shared problem definition of   “we need to improve how we plan” is a shared version which moves the group one step forward.

  • 25% building a set of ground rules relating to trust and communication

Examples: we call one another and discuss hard to solve issues instead of creating an email chain; we assume good intent before we react, we talk one on one before embarrassing one another…all may serve as a useful platform.

What to avoid during the meeting?

  • Struggling with defining roles and responsibilities makes so sense since that changes all the time.
  • Solving problems  that need to be managed and not solved.
  • Too much open debate which makes things worse in such a group

Worst mistakes a facilitator can make in such a meeting:

  • Too much or  too little  task focus
  • Lack of one on one preparation
  • Lack of understanding of cultural restraints and capabilities leading to poor design,
  • Poor control of meeting.
  • Too much feigned civility and niceness
  • Too much unstructured and personalized conflict

Critical facilitation decisions:

  • When to ask for input and when to present input,
  • Balance between expert and facilitator
  • Balancing the need between discretion and openness.
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OD has joined HR in the repression business-and we can only lose

There is something to be said for HR having become a business partner.
Business partnership means understanding the context in which HR is operating in order to better promote the interests of the HR role and profession.That should not mean that HR becomes the sycophant and execution squad of management. It should not mean that business decisions are made and HR cleans up after the parade.
As Gloria Ramsbottom’s blog illustrates (ramsbottom-lemieux.blogspot.co.il),far too often HR has become the oil that greases the machine of grinding obedience fueled by a lack of values.

Similarly, OD practitioners can no longer do interventions which are purely developmental in nature, driven only by spiritualism or humanism.
OD practitioners have needed to understand the business domain in which they operate in order to create interventions that create value.
Yet the value I am referring to is not the value that finds its way into the OD practitioners pocket.

I am referring to value for the clients’ ability to factor in the human element to create alignment between the business and the people, without which the organizations fails. OD needs to understand and drive the synergy between the business environment, the community that it resides and the persons that it employs. Business must understand the synergy between these, and recognize that its employees are valuable assets that must be nurtured.
In the crushing market since 2008 and faced with massive competition, OD has joined HR in creating business partnership to the detriment of the profession.
OD wisdom has been replaced with products, truth to power has been replaced with kissing management’s ass, correct has been replaced with politically correct and authentic has been replaced with civil.
This has created a blur between OD, change management technicians and business consultants. In this overlap, OD loses more ground daily. We are no longer even aware of our value proposition. We are losing our vocabulary. We have overly adaptive to the point of using terms like human asset management and developing matrices to measure ROI in “human asset value”.

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Gloria Ramsbottom-Lemieux


I created a fictional HR manager named Gloria Ramsbottom-Lemieux two years ago.

Gloria is a woman. This may shock PC readers. I try to be correct, but not politically correct. We know that most HR managers are men and CEO’s are women, don’t we?

Why did I create Gloria?

There is a new generation of HR managers that “upset” me. They suffer from an overdose of slogans and screw the masses,  dressed up as “HR business partners”.

Low in the intellect department, they overdose technology, serving as running dogs of the status quo, refusing to confront the powers that be,  just to preserve their seat at the table.

They prefer motivational speakers to tackle issues of the immensely complex human condition at work. Everything needs to be wow, or wow wow. Or nice.

Gloria is my own grotesque version of such an HR manager, created “in line with my core value of anger management”. Laughter beats tears.

On Dec 5th, 2014, Google agreed to allow me to monetize the Gloria site, based on traffic and content.

Those who were with me on the OD list serve (where Gloria began her career) may understand how happy I am.

Gloria’s blog can be found at ramsbottom-lemieux.blogspot.co.il

Here is a link to her biography.

Let there be no doubt. Gloria and all characters in the blog are inspired by real situations. Gloria as a person, however, is a fictional character. Many people believe she is real and she gets fan mail.


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What to do about unions? A warning to Israeli HR managers.

Now that the work force is being unionized and almost daily, the Histadrut conquers new ground, HR needs to move rapidly to redefine itself.

Here are the top 5 transitions which need to happen.

1) Speak the Truth to Power.

2) Provide your CEO with risk management analysis what happens to his business if he treats people like spare parts.

3) Talk to your CEO like the external auditor or external legal counsel does, not like a syncophant.

4) Be careful of being careful, because it is you who will be blamed anyway.

5) Prepare for worst. Being optimistic is TOTALLY dysfunctional

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