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There are many opinions, but when does it change?


As I sit in front of my computer and begin to type out another blog entry, I think back to a few months ago to when I first started writing.  I believe that I have always been a better verbal communicator than written, but I wanted to take the chance in doing something different and see what happened.  I figured at best, I would get followers who wanted to hear what I had to say about the art and science that I love so much and the business that I am building around that and would enjoy it, and at worst I would end up essentially talking to myself and getting an opportunity to work on my written communication skills.  I believe that I have struck a chord somewhere in the middle, and I look at this as a developmental tool for myself and my readers.  However, I think I missed one very important point: You have to write about things that people want to hear about.  That’s not to say that I don’t think that what I am writing about is interesting or necessary, but I think I need to put some of my own commentary in here a bit.  So, this will hopefully be the beginning of what I believe will be much more interesting reading, involving both my opinions as well as some of the more specific information in to the subjects that I have been writing about up till now.

To start this new journey, I felt like I should talk about something that evokes quite a bit of emotion from me and that seems to be a “hot button” topic for others as well.  In fact, I just read someone elses blog about this topic this morning.  You can see the same entry at http://stevedenning.typepad.com/steve_denning/2010/07/why-do-great-km-programs-fail.html.  I generally enjoy the articles from Steve, even if I think he is a bit too harsh on the Harvard Business Review.  He makes a lot of sense as he talks about what he calls “Radical Management”.  Essentially the concept is exactly what every consumer and worker sees, hears, and believes about the business world: in general, it is broken.

The old ways of management are not applicable anymore, and yet we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.  I can’t help but to think back to the last organization that I was an employee of, and the debacle that was, is, and will more than likely continue to be there.  Every time I read a blog entry or other article that speaks the way that Steve does about the multiple mistakes being made in the corporate world it makes me wonder how many times the same message has to be heard again before changes are made.

One of the most poignant points that Steve Denning talks about is how there is an “iron triangle” that is composed of employees, customers, and management.  He states that many business improvements will affect only one side of the triangle in a positive manner while sacrificing satisfaction in the other two, or affect only two sides positively while the other side suffers.  Sad to think about, but it makes sense.

I want to address this for just a moment.  It is my belief that you must have ALL of your Human Capital working towards the same goal, and therefore any improvement solutions that you attempt to put in place must connect all of these in pursuit of the same goal.  As I have said before, the strategy of the organization is where it starts and if everyone in the organization is not working to achieve the same strategy then the organization will not succeed.  With that being said, I can completely agree that if you implement an improvement initiative for only one population of your organization (meaning only for front-line employees, or only for middle managers, etc.) it will not succeed.  It must be supported by all stakeholders in an organization, and it must be in support of the overall organizational strategy.

When you talk about customers ending up receiving the short end of the stick, you have to ask yourself  one very important question: Are the activities in the organization being done to meet the needs and desires of the customers from the beginning, including all of the performance improvement initiatives along the way?  I think that sometimes it becomes very easy to get so wrapped up in our internal business world that we forget that we are in business to serve our customers.  When it becomes all about making money, then you are going to lose sight of why you do what you do and for whom.  This isn’t to say that it isn’t important to make money, but it shouldn’t change your morals and values to accomplish it.  How many businesses built themselves from the trust and service that they provided to customers, only to fall like Goliath to David as they became a bit too big for their britches and began to do things that would never have been thought about only 15-20 years earlier?  I think many names in the financial sector could come to mind, among others.

Another thing that I want to touch on is how organizations are so quick to get rid of training, performance improvement, organizational development, knowledge management, or other initiatives when things begin to get tough.  We’ve all seen it and experienced it I’m sure.  Financially it’s seen as a drain on the organization, when the money could supposedly be utilized elsewhere to create more money.  How’s that working out for you so far?  Not too good?  Sorry to hear that, but not surprised.  This goes back to the beginning of this article: the old ways of management are not applicable any more.  As the generations change and people continue to evolve, so does the business world.  Those that are continuing to succeed and grow are those that are able to adjust to the changing market place and needs of both customers and employees!  But there are still plenty of businesses that are not faring as well and instead are choosing to stay with the command and control way of thinking as Steve Denning explains.  Something has to change.  You can’t continue to cut the components of the organization that are in place to help you and your organization to grow and develop and prepare for the future of business and expect that there will be no repercussions.

So I pose the question: When do companies start to listen, and take the chance to change in truly amazing and beneficial ways?  I’ll be looking forward to that time, and will continue to work towards that with those that I come in contact with.  Take care, until next time!

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Organizational Development….Training…Communications…Human Resources Development…Who are you?!


I enjoy what I do.  In fact, probably more than anyone should ever be allowed by law to enjoy their career choice.  And yet, I have come to one tremendous realization: the field that I am in is going through an identity crisis right now.  Trainer, OD Professional, Human Performance Technologist, Learning and Development Specialist…which one is right?  As a member of many discussion groups across the “interweb” I have found that there are many that share this sentiment and it brings to light the question of how many others feel the same way?  How many operational members, including leadership, question what the OD field really is or does? 

That’s what I hope to clarify a bit here.  I don’t claim to have all of the answers, and I strongly encourage anyone who has opinions and thoughts on this topic to leave a comment!  I’m sure that there are many different opinions and explanations, and I for one would love to hear as many as are available.

So what is this Organizational Development thing?  Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/organization_development) defines it as follows: “Organization development (OD) is a planned, organization-wide effort to increase an organization’s effectiveness and viability.  Warren Bennis, has referred to OD as a response to change, a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of organizationso that they can better adapt to new technologies, marketing challenges, and the dizzying rate of change itself.  OD is neither “anything done to better an organization” nor is it “the training function of the organization”; it is a partucular kind of change process designed to bring about a particular end result.  OD can involve interventions in the organization’s “processes”, using behavioral science knowledge, as well as organizational reflection, system improvement, planning, and self-analysis.” 

At www.businessdictionary.com/definition/organizational-development-OD.html the definition is slightly different: “(The) Theory and practice of planned, systematic change in the attitudes, beliefs, and values of the employees through creation and reinforcement of long-term training programs.  OD is action oriented.  It starts with a careful organization-wide analysis of the current situation and of the future requirements, and employs techniques of behavioral sciences such as behavior modeling, sensitivity training, and transactional analysis.  Its objective is to enable the organization in adapting better to the fast-changing external environment of new markets, regulations, and technologies.”  At http://www.odportal.com/OD/whatisod.htm we find the explanation as: “There is no single definition of ‘Organizational Development.’  If we were to break it into its parts we can discover one meaning: ‘Organization’ has come to mean the coming together of people and resources to form a unit. ‘Development’ in its simplest form suggests change and grwoth.  So OD could be defined as ‘the practice of changing people and organizations for positive growth.'”  You can also find definitions at http://ezinearticles.com/?organizational-development-definition&id=3893262 and http://www.odnetwork.org/aboutod/credo.php that are somewhat similar.

Why do I give so many references here?  To show that no matter what spin is placed on the definition, ultimately Organizational Development is about helping businesses and their people succeed and grow.  This happens through a company’s people, and the processes that they complete (administrative, physical, relational, communication, etc.) every day.  As it is with any profession there are many things that can fit in to the overall category.  The same can be said for OD.  For example change management, communications, training, business evaluation and analysis…these are all functions of OD.  One of the most common misconceptions is that training is, by itself, OD.  Training is only one tool in the overall OD system.  More recently I have become quite aware that a major piece of OD is the communication function, but again this is only one tool in the overall OD system in my opinion.  Many businesses and leaders would probably group OD in with Human Resources, which is not all together incorrect.  OD does, in fact, generally fall under the umbrella of Human Resources (if for no other reason than they work with a businesses human capital).  There needs to be a differentiation between the “Personnel Department” aspects of handling the administrative functions of employees versus the many functions of OD.

So where does this leave the OD definition, much less the function?  Well, no matter the title that you place on it, the purpose is still ultimately the same: to help organizations and their people succeed and grow!