The Nine Steps to Successful Organization Development - Part 2

When I started this series the other day, I did not have all the steps planned out in advance. Still don't. I picked nine to give me enough room to discover what I want to say. What I am realizing already is that each of these nine steps is going to contain a real personal story where I learned something about organization development through an interactive process with a mentor, a boss, a colleague, a customer, a competitor, or a friend.

Step Two - What Is OD Exactly?

People in the field of organization development do a wide and varied range of work, including such things as leadership development, team building, coaching, strategic planning, MBTI, performance management, culture change, and succession planning. In their work, they often cross paths (and sometimes swords) with HR people.

Interestingly, as smart as they are, OD practitioners sometimes have a hard time boiling it all down into a clear and convincing tidy elevator speech.

Years ago, I learned an important lesson about OD when Bob, the CEO of the telecom company that I was working for, asked Marsha, the VP of Sales & Marketing, to take over the HR department. Initially she was skeptical (and probably a bit scared, as HR was not her comfort zone), but being a fearless lady, she said Yes and stepped into the new role.

A quick learner, she rapidly mastered the staffing and compensation areas of HR, two areas of huge relevance to the company, which was aggressively expanding around the country at that time. A third area that she grabbed ahold of right away was learning & development, also a high priority. The training piece made sense to her right away, as she had been a champion of training in her former role.

The OD side, however, left her puzzled. On a planning retreat, she said to my boss Judy and me: "What is OD all about anyway?" She wanted to get a handle on it in order to know how to utilize it to the benefit of the company.

Judy and I started to educate Marsha on OD, but it was not an easy sale. It took time and several conversations. Just like a difficult sales process. Marsha was no pushover. She wanted to know exactly what she would be buying if she provided the resources of the company to support OD work.

I came to realize that the best customer of OD is the most demanding.

For OD to be successful, the OD practitioner needs to know what he or she has to offer and can explain how it contributes to organizational effectiveness.


regina said…
Hi Terrence,
Quick note...I think it is interesting that Marketing people are asking what is od anyway? I think that many aspects of marketing are od work...for example, branding, internal branding, corporate communications, investor relations, etc. All of this stuff is od and the more and more they start to realize it, the more integrated and aligned the organization can be. PS - HR peope need to recognize it to.
Terrence Seamon said…
Smart marketing people --or for that matter, smart engineers, smart lawyers, and smart research scientists-- want to know more about organization development because OD looks at the totality of an enterprise and asks, What changes would make this organization more effective?

You say, Regina, that "many aspects of marketing are od work." Although I would not draw an identity between these domains, they are clearly interrelated within an organization. When I worked for Marsha on OD projects, we spent a great deal of energy on corporate communications and internal branding.


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