Global OD-Lesson Six: What are the basic assumptions about how organizations change?

A new purchasing process is being rolled out by Helmut from company HQ.

Helmut from Germany believes that if everyone will follow the process with discipline and rigor, the new purchasing process will work;  folks in all departments will learn to trust one another, due to the high level of responsiveness that the change in purchasing process will achieve. He is encountering resistance in Israel and China.

Moshe from Israel says that once he trusts the agenda of those in corporate implementing the new purchasing process, he and the team may  follow the process. Until then, they will work around the process to ensure plenty of escalations- to shake apart the rigid process. They will make Helmut crumble under the number of exceptions, generated by the Israeli proclivity of doing things at the last minute.

Bai from Shanghai does not plan to use the purchasing process. The level of transparency will enable people in corporate to “stick their nose into my territory”. He does not plan to allow the system to be implemented. Bai will, however, express his commitment to “roll out the system, adapting it to the reality of the Chinese market over an eight year period.

These are not minor differences and Helmut feels he is failing- and thus Helmut has requested an OD intervention.

The consultant’s choice of a path of intervention is complex. I would imagine that a Western traditional OD intervention would have the ideological preference of making this into a “group grope, by examining the resistance to the change by putting all the folks in the room to create alignment and build commitment to make it work. This may not be effective, and this is an understatement.

.A global OD consultant would probably work with HQ and ensure alignment of policy, structure, culture, and staffing. If the new purchasing process is to be deployed in China, the staffing for the initial few years should be a German-Chinese expat with vast China experience. Moshe  needs to be replaced by another manager with more global experience who has learned that one cannot argue with everything. Since Helmut is working with Chinese and Israelis, the tools of implementation need to be aligned.Helmut needs to ensure that he is equipped with sufficient sanctions, and not a bag full of processes and the assumption that folks do what they are told.

Perhaps the Global OD consultant will try and change the purchasing process itself, if it creates more damage than good.

Because global OD assumes that group discussions, team work and better communication do not solve everything, Global OD often focuses on the decisions/policies themselves, appropriate  staffing, and different roll out strategies for different geographies.

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