What Every OD Practitioner Needs to Know

What is it that every Organization Development practitioner needs to know?

There are probably as many answers to this as there are OD professionals. So I'll start the ball rolling with my list of The Ten Paradoxes that Every OD Practitioner Needs to Know.

1) There is no such thing as an "organization." Organizations are collections of individuals, trying to do things in concert, aiming toward common goals. - AND - There are such things as organizations, dammit! Look at a flock of birds. It's as if there was one mind governing all the individuals.

2) Changing an organization is very hard. Like turning a battleship around. - AND - Changing an organization is very easy. Shoot the CEO between the eyes.

3) To really change an organization, you have to change the invisible wiring, the culture of the organization. - AND - You can't really ever change the invisible wiring, the culture, of an organization. It would be like trying to change the DNA.

4) When entering an organization, it is wise to observe, listen and learn. - AND - When entering an organization, it is expected to survey, assess, and prescribe.

5) Organization Development should never be reduced to mere training. - AND - Organization Development is, at heart, a training intervention, intended to help the organization to learn and improve its effectiveness.

6) Organization Development is about improving the performance of an organization as measured by its attainment of its goals. - AND - Organization Development is about making organizations better places for people to work --healthier, more creative and respectful workplaces-- and making the world a better place.

7) OD is a profession. - AND - OD is a calling.

8) Your client will never "get" what OD is, so explain it as something else. Never say "OD" to your client. - AND - Your client will "get" what OD is in the process of experiencing it and seeing its effects.

9) Your most important tool is data about the organization and its performance. - AND - Your most important tool is your Self.

10) Organization Development is a science, an applied social science. - AND - Organization development is an art, a creative and collaborative practice, often a healing ritual.

What would you add?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, September 3, 2009


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