Showing posts from October, 2010

HR and OD - What Does the Future Hold?

Over five years ago, I published a blog entry, on the relationship between HR and OD, that has consistently been one of the most read posts on Here We Are. Now What?

Now the OD Network has released the latest issue of OD Practitioner devoted to the same topic. While my copy has not come in the mail yet, I've heard it has a great line-up including Ed Schein, Matt Minihan, and Dave Hanna.

So in view of this resurgent interest, I thought I should re-publish my take from 2005, plus add some current thoughts at the end. Enjoy.

Why HR and OD Don't Get Along

There is an article in the current issue of Fast Company magazine, called "Why We Hate HR," that is getting a lot of discussion at places like ODNET and HRNET. I have even weighed in a bit at those two discussions.

In this blog entry, however, I am going to look at a different angle, the relationship between HR and OD.

HR and OD are related functions in many organizations, where both are concerned about critical people proc…

Falling and Rising

Did you ever have the great pleasure of observing a baby learning to walk? Though she falls many times, she rises, going right back, trying, striving over and over until, on staggering legs, she takes that first step. Whoever has witnessed a baby's triumph knows the joy of that moment.

Learning to walk, you might say, is the first task we undertake. Our first job. It is filled with set-backs as the performer tries and falls, over and over.

For me, this human process, one that happens the world over every day in every land, is a paradigm of the meaning of work in our lives. What if we applied this paradigm to organizations? Would workplaces become more human?

Throughout our lives, we strive toward deeply felt aspirations, ones that we instinctively know in our bones. We fall, many times, but after every fall, we rise. We rise and continue to strive. Until we make it.

But there is one more vital component in this process: loving support. In the baby example, the parent watches closely.…

Listen, the Key to Engaging Others

6 months ago on linkedIn, Ayesha Habeeb asked, "What is the one thing you need to do to keep employees motivated and engaged?"

The one thing is Listen.

L = Lead by listening to employees and learning from them.

I = Invite employees to say their piece of the wisdom regarding improving their work process...and how to make the company great.

S = Stopping what you are doing so you can be attentive to them.

T = Taking notes on their ideas...and then taking action, doing something with what you heard.

E = Empowering them to implement the best ideas.

N = Never stop focusing on employees and what they need.

If you are a leader, you probably want to motivate people, to solve problems, and to better serve the customer. The key? Listen to your people.

Last week, on an episode of the TV show Undercover Boss, CEO Bryan Bedford of Frontier Airlines, demonstrated the power of listening as he spent a week inside his company's operation, listening to front-line employees. He got "down…

Change: It Can Break Your Heart

Yesterday, for more than an hour, I watched a team of tree cutters in my backyard, taking down a 200 year old swamp maple. Like an acrobat, the guy in the tree, working closely with his team on the ground, took branch by branch, until only a stump remained.

My wife and I are sad about the destruction of a tree we had come to know for over 20 years. We knew the tree was old and that it wasn't well. We once had a tree whisperer visit our yard. He looked at it and said, "It's old. And mostly dead. But it will still give off branches and leaves each year. Until it falls down."

So, our neighbor decided to reduce the risk of the old maple toppling over on his house.

It was the right thing to do. Although the tree had been here longer than anyone in my town, dating back to post-colonial times -- an historic tree, you might say -- it was time. The tree had become a worry. And a hazard. What if it fell in a storm and took out a fence or a back porch...or a person?

Sometimes chang…

The Power of HOPE

Imagine being buried alive under tons of rock, half a mile below the surface of the earth. That's the situation that the Chilean miners found themselves in. But 70 days later, the Miracle in the Mine happened: all 33 were rescued, in a flawless operation, shown on live TV, broadcast to billions around the world!

Their story proves the power of HOPE:

- Help each other - These rough and ready men realized that they had to support one another if there was any hope of survival.

- Optimistic Outlook - Though, for the first couple weeks, the outside world thought the men were lost, the miners stayed positive. Miner Mario Sepulveda said: "I have been with God and I've been with the devil. I fought between the two. I seized the hand of God, it was the best hand. I always knew God would get us out of there." Whether faith in God, or the thought of seeing a spouse or child again, they found a lifeline, a way to hold on and maintain a hopeful outlook despite their predicament.

Making Sense of Change

Sometimes things happen in life that leave us devastated. Losing a job, for example. Or losing a loved one. These sudden and drastic changes cause our life structure to disintegrate, leaving us perplexed and gasping for understanding, wondering Why this has happened to us.

As an organizational change consultant, one of my chief influences is the social psychologist Karl Weick who coined the term sensemaking. Making sense of our life experience is a core human activity. We are doing it all the time, but barely notice it. Except for times when things change dramatically.

For example, in the personal realm, look at the loss of a loved one. You spend months dwelling on why it happened. Trying to make sense out of it. But you really never can. Hopefully you subscribe to a belief system (e.g. a religion or a non-religion) that helps you to categorize the loss. So you can move on. And get on with your life.

In the white-water of today's change-filled organizations, sensemaking is in overdri…

On Natural and Un-Natural Change

These days, many are wondering about change. In the natural world, there's global climate change. In the political world, there's Obama's progressive agenda dubbed "Change you can believe in."

The Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius said: "We shrink from change. Yet is there anything that can come into being without it?"

For me, change is life itself. We live with change (e.g. getting older, losing a loved one etc) and we make change in our lives (e.g. moving out of our parents' house and getting an apartment, changing jobs, etc). With wisdom, we come to understand the natural role of change, our feelings about change, and the need to initiate change at times.

Change management professionals would do well to have a baby. (Or, if a baby is too dramatic, get a puppy. Puppies would be a close second to a baby.)

Having a baby says it all about change. They change your life. And you need to adapt. You now have a little life that you are responsibl…