The hugely positive feedback and direct learning from these webinars has been of tremendous value to both us and all our guests. I'd like to share some of the observations and takeaways we took from the sessions and the attendees about the nature of Organisational Development as it plays out in the real world. Our free sessions certainly helped arm them with all the best practice and toolkits they need to face these challenges!
1. Organisational Development's Ongoing Identity Crisis
Practically all of the OD professionals we spoke with believe it's still pick and mix. We are ultimately perceived as Learning & Development (but perhaps with some bells & whistles). I'd be really interested to hear your own feedback on this - is this how you feel you are perceived (or, if you're on a board team perhaps, is that how you perceive OD professionals working alongside you)?
2. High On "Doing" But Low On "Planning/Measuring"
The consensus was the majority of our time is spent in design or delivery. A lot of our practices appears to be either one-off pieces of work or perhaps a number of pieces of work aligned to a single programme. The lack of an OD operating model or CRM means we are not gathering meaningful and specific OD data sets from our customers. This inhibits the work we are able to deliver due to gaps in analysis, visioning, strategy and planning.
3. Stagnating Or Diminishing Credibility At Senior Leadership Levels
Well, we really struggle here! In many cases, the OD's relationship with the top team is good, especially where the CEO is the advocate and sponsor of OD. In most cases this support is utopian. However, for many people we engaged with their feedback was very much that the relationship simply did not exist and that the OD professional - whilst having their plans "approved" - felt that they were operating in a strategic vacuum.
4. Unpredictable Commissioning Rationale & Channel
Whether individuals suffered or excelled in any mix of the previous 3 points; the prevailing theme of how OD staff had their services commissioned fell into 3 main areas:
A: Chief Executive "whim"
B: An inherited OD programme from the "centre" i.e.with little or no involvement in its design and simply distributed to be deployed across disparate parts of an organisation
C: Where OD was operating in a strategic vacuum, the OD people themselves produce the OD programmes using their own intuition (I say intuition since these programmes are often not linked into organisational strategies) resulting in a lack of an integrated OD strategy that is tethered to the leaders individual strategies (which in turn drives the vision).
TAKEAWAY: WHERE ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE
The primary takeaway we got from all this is that we appear to struggle to validate need if it is being driven by someone else. If 'they' have an idea and we fail to test if then it becomes difficult/impossible to tell if that idea is actually needed or relevant or whether it is more important/impactful than what we're already doing now.
The key learning here is that Organisational Development, HR and Transformation Professionals need a concrete operating model and CRM to drive the data for us to propose OD interventions based on where the organisation is today. With this we'd be able to build the solid business case that is the validation for the work itself and provide the convincers needed for board. Our commissioners would wholeheartedly welcome this approach as it's professional, targeted and measurable. As Organisational Development professionals we can then live on how good/bad our services are and see, appreciate and demonstrate the impact that we make on any organisations bottom line.
Isn't this where Organisational Development should be?