Posted on March 8, 2014
This is the third of 3 posts to illustrate that OD is not passé.
While others have cannibalized some of what OD used to do, and organizations do not value people as much as before thus weakening OD’s value proposition, there are special situations where the added value of OD is outstanding.
The first situation I described was New Product Introduction. The second post related to use of OD to relay intent in cases where cultural obstacles prevent dialogue.
This post will examine in brief OD practitioners greatest added value: as a “support centre” helping people think and act in organizational life.
The essence of this support is working with managers on their understanding of their cognitive/emotional organizational assumptions, serve as a reality check for perceptions of organizational meaning and context, “think through” alternatives of action,examine the management of risk/opportunities and work on issues stemming from organizational politics.
Here are some of the reasons why many Organization Development practitioners do not provide this service.
- OD practitioners have not all been trained to do so.
- The misplaced focus of OD practitioners on OD products has detracted from the ability to focus on less structured support for “thinking”.
- It is very hard (impossible) to market this service.
- Providing this type support does not create scalable revenue. Senior OD people cannot delegate this type of work to new college graduates and clip a coupon. It simply cannot be done. So this type of work means that the senior OD practitioner need to continue to consult, not manage.
- The results of this type of work cannot be measured, thus creating a battle between the OD consultant with the organization’s procurement department and the Gloria’s of the world.
Nevertheless I believe that is where the value of OD is.
On a personal note, when I look at the types of people I work with well, they are/have been highly intelligent people who seek out “someone smart” with whom to talk. I have never worked well with someone who wants a product. For the life of me, I do not even know what an OD product is, although I see all the “brush salespeople” peddling them all over the place.
To conclude this series….is OD passé? In Hebrew we use a double negative: לא ולא which means absolutely not (no and no). While the use of OD is less universal than it was, OD is highly applicable in special situations with the right clients.