Let’s look at OD like developers, not application engineers

One of the lessons I have learnt in my decades of OD work with high tech companies is that the “next generation” of products and services does not usually emerge from the same people/teams working on the present breadwinner.

A power structure develops around breadwinning products  whose role it is to preserve the centrality of the mind sets and skill sets which gain value from the breadwinners’  predominance. Hence, new ideas which challenge the current paradigm are often resisted.

The same phenomenon effects OD. The current version of OD is “stuck”, yet protected by the dominant practitioners, gurus and universities who benefit from the present versions of OD.

OD will not renew itself by gawking at the past or fiddling around with new packaging of old ideas, nor via peddling “applications” based on the same “core code” of the old OD, a professional dominated from day one by western values and western assumptions about human behaviour.

There are several core issues that can hasten the “realignment of OD with future reality”.

   1-The acutely diverse nature of the global organization which simply cannot adapt itself to western values. (openness, authenticity, personal development, empowerment)

   2-The massive dysfunction stemming from a severe overdose of IT driven business processes. (At present, OD cross dresses as change managers, ramming these processes into place).

   3-The alienation of the soul in the work place. (The engagement products which OD provides to deal with this are a pathetic bad joke)

Next generation OD will not be conceived in universities. My experience is that learning OD in academia is almost useless, at best. Nor will OD be reinvented by most current practitioners, who serve as “application engineers”, administering OD products, often mindlessly. naively, cynically or out of self preservation.

I believe that OD can benefit from emulating other professions which focus on anticipating future needs, not serve as an order taker for elixirs which address current aches and pains. In other words, renewing OD is an exercise in system architecture, not engineering.

These are very initial thoughts, and I will modify this post as my thoughts become clearer.

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