David Lorenzo discusses OD in his post called the Power and Value of Effective Organization Development. Here are a few of his points and my 2 cents…
David: It is curious how even people who make a
living in OD talk about "not having a seat at the table" and "not
understanding the strategic importance of people in an organization".
While I know some OD professionals have this complaint, I myself, have not had this problem. In fact, I was more likely to be asked to sit at more table than I thought practical. Perhaps I have been lucky, but once I earn respect, the leaders and execs I work with have been very inclusive.
David: This leads me to my big take-away from our
meeting: When I raised the issue of focusing on "work group" specific
improvement, the group just glossed right over it – electing to focus
on initiatives that centered primarily on executive level impact.
I am with David on this one. Work group development can make a huge difference and it is where I spend a lot of time. Execs come and go and can only have so much influence. You get a work group knocking the cover off the ball and wonderful shifts begin to happen (and they outlast any one individual).
David: If we do not win this argument, OD professionals will always be branded "support personnel" and will appear less strategic.
OK, my comment here might not be very popular with my fellow OD types, but here goes. I think many OD professionals are their own worst enemies. When I attend OD conferences, I simply want to gag. Some of the basic issues discussed are fine, but the themes and research that is going on does not match up with what will make a difference to most companies. As a discipline and function, many have lost touch with being a business leader first and foremost.
Case in point, below I have copied one hour of breakout sessions at the OD Network Conference (I did not delete or add any). Check out these titles. Now do you think that if you asked the top CEOs how they want OD to contribute, they would say these things? To be fair, all these topics are not worthless, but they are worded in ways that do not represent the function well with business leaders, I think.
- It´s Not Personal: How a Systems Perspective Provides Insight into Relationship Breakdowns.
- OD, Creativity and Transitions
- Inventing the Joint Strike Fighter: A Case Study of International Collaboration Startup
- Simple Rules: Organizational DNA
- Appreciative Inquiry Case Study: Achieving Service Excellence in the City of Anaheim
- HR´s New Role: Becoming a Strategic Business Partner (Pardon me, but this is not new and has been a conference topic for 20 years. Perhaps talking about this at conferences is not working.)
- A Dialogue on OD and Corporate Values: Where Do They Converge and How Do They Differ?
- Legal Levers for OD
- Organizational Development and Social Change — A Practitioner´s Dialogue
- Ethical Business"?¦An Oxymoron?
I think this is part of the point that David was making (more diplomatically than I did). Don’t get the wrong idea from this post, I love OD work. It is in my blood and it is one of the things I think I do best. Perhaps I just do a different kind of OD.