Grouping: A core OD competency


Many of us in the Organization Development field have had experience working with teams. Project teams. Committees. Boards. For the most part, team building interventions designed to improve how these teams function. But teams that are already there.

Have you ever started a group? From scratch? From nothing but a felt need and an idea?

When the tsunami wave of the Great Recession, washed millions of people into unemployment, many felt totally adrift in the deluge, lost and in need of connecting with others for support.

But in many cases, when they looked around in their local areas for such support groups, they found none. So some started to think about forming their own support groups.

I was one of those. Many years before, I would sometimes say that groups were not for me. That I was "not a joiner." Well, life has a way of teaching you lessons. As a result of organizational and societal upheavals, I changed my tune.

At my church (St. Matthias in Somerset, NJ), we started a small outreach ministry group to help people who were struggling with unemployment in a terrible economy. At that time, I remember noticing that such groups were springing up all over the landscape --many through houses of worship, at local libraries, and at Y's-- as people reached out to one another in solidarity.

One day at an HR networking group meeting in northern NJ, some of us were chatting about this grouping phenomena. Recognizing that people may not know how to start and run groups, my OD colleague Janice Lee Juvrud and I decided to respond. I remember Janice saying to me, "We are experts on groups. We should share that expertise."

Janice was right. Who else would you turn to to design and launch a group? Grouping is a core competency of OD.

So we did. We wrote a short, handy guide on starting a support group. Since writing the guide in 2009 and giving it away for free via email, it has gone all over the world.

As you look around your local area, you may not see an existing group that fits your need. So you may just have to start one yourself. If you decide to do that, let me know. I'd be happy to send our guide.

For some additional ammo, OD and grouping guru Geoff Bellman has identified eight characteristics of extraordinary groups, including having a compelling purpose. When I listened to this podcast, it reaffirmed for me what we discovered as we went about creating groups.

Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2013 by Terrence Seamon

Comments

Nick Heap said…
I agree with you that mutual support is very helpful, perhaps essential when you are facing a crisis. I appreciate your generosity in sharing your materials. Would that all OD people did this routinely.

Have you any experience, or ideas about setting up groups, not in response to crises, but simply to make the world a better place?

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