Why the results of OD interventions are not perfect

Recently, I have finished major dental treatment which I had put off for years, due to fear and dilly dallying; finally l decided to just do it. The treatments took six months.

During the tens of meetings I had with my dentist during this half year, I found myself observing his work . And as the work came to a close, it was evident  that he felt satisfaction at the near perfect results. Indeed, my smile is “luvly”.

I have executed many complex OD projects over the years: post merger integration, interventions with very senior managers, and working with cultures where OD values appear incompatible. I have also done lots of work with Fortune 500 companies and very demanding start-ups.

My business grows via referrals and although my style is an “acquired taste”, at the personal level I have a sense of humour and it is easy to interact with me, so clients “like” me. This having been said, I have never delivered a “perfect” result, like my dentist has.

If properly executed, OD interventions cannot be perfect. Organizations themselves are very imperfect. Once the human race started organizing and we all  became dependant on one another, there is severe anxiety built into the very essence of organizing, and all forms of organizations. This anxiety is not soluble.

OD creates more effective coping mechanisms, flexibility and a better breed of manager, follower and team. Yet often, once OD mitigates the noise caused by one problem, another problem surfaces, which is totally natural.

Many so called OD practitioners try and sell OD products  which can be “plugged in and played” , as it were,  to any organization. They promise “client satisfaction” and perfect results. This brand of OD practitioner, the snake oil salesman, wants his client to be thrilled. I don’t. Being thrilled with the results an OD project makes no sense at all, because at best, human organizing is so imperfect.

The OD which I practice delivers a professional service and not a product. The results that I deliver are very real and concrete, because they are not “perfect”. Certainly since most of my business is repeat or referral, the clients are satisfied, but they are not thrilled! Mais non!

And alas, in dentistry so much is dependant on the dentist, whilst in OD, so much dependent of client-consultant interaction. So here is a paradox to think over: in OD, only the unskilled deliver perfect results.

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