Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Brevity in OD could be a mirage

Recently Terrence Seamon invited us to a 10 words challenge. The content of the words was to state what OD does. 

My 10 words : Facilitating an organization's systemic outcomes by ethically applying behavioural sciences  : 

If words can capture the function of ODers - as above. 


Engineering Solutions  / Solving problems - is like taking the technician's tools to the client. The conjurer in HR often confuses this layer for OD, because of the potential scale of impact. Metaphorically, when a barber uses raw razors and needle and thread on wounds - his methods are less effective than that of a surgeon's whose scalpels, sutures and disinfectants come from a different process; although, the barber believes that his task is equal to that of the surgeon. 

Applying Sciences requires that the consultant knows the difference between the roles below AND knowing that either role below can be called for through OD's phases, and at times simultaneously

scientist, - observer, recorder, experimenter, designer, theorist, philosopher - truth seeker
laboratory assistant - materials handler (models as apparatus), tool calibrator (survey operationalization / qualitative content analysis), - truth tester
engineer - setting up materials efficiently for full system effectiveness, specifying criteria for functionality - ensures fitness for use in society - truth evangelist
user - the employee / participant in change, for whom efforts of the above are above ordinary life at work - truth valuer

That's why when theory is not advanced to qualify OD, we fall short of its promise. Science not only implies method of enquiry, but also its evidencing.

My takeaway from Terry's challenge? - Simplicity does not compensate for complexity, nor satiate curiosity. Economy and effectiveness can work at cross purposes. 

PS : My apologies to the bald and balding - whose use for barbers has receded with years, and prayers for your good health - so that you don't suffer a surgeon's scare