What is to be done about Organization Development?

Organization Development has 4 major threats.

  • Change Management presents a more concrete perceived value  proposition in  the change domain
  • Coaching has encroached on group and personal consulting
  • IT technology has a eliminated a lot of issues OD dealt with because of the manner in which people interact
  • A very threatened HR is closing the door and “throwing blocks” at OD work.

Some folks in Organization Development are waiting for market reality to “go back” to what used to be. Others suggest a return back to OD’s humanistic roots, in a weird “back to basics” syndrome.  Others moan and groan about a “bad market conditions” and hone their OD “marketing skills” in a failed attempt get work in a tough market.

I have chosen the road less travelled, focusing my OD work to address the unique challenges of global organizations. OD’s western set of humanistic values and tools is irrelevant for many of the issues and challenges global organizations face.  Yet OD can be, and is, in the process of being redesigned and retooled to support inherent problems of global organizations.

The pragmatic, eclectic and skilled OD practitioners, with advanced cultural literacy and cultural humility, probably need about ten days of retraining to jump start professional capabilities to be effective in global organizations.

And the hardest part is not the learning, but rather the un-learning of OD “orthodoxy”. The OD establishment has a lot to lose if OD becomes “too flexible”.

Redesigning and retooling OD is a bit of a rebellion. Those who do not rebel against traditional OD and its establishment will fight a battle of retreat.

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