Organization Development (OD) is the scholarship and practice of applied social sciences to cohesive groups of people – organizations, communities, unions and the like. OD professionals tune into and assess an entire social system with an aim to guide and coach it to discover and evolve itself, bringing people-based processes to do so.  To clarify, OD professionals are not hired to fix a system like a doctor or manage it like human resources (HR). We might work with individuals and teams, though usually with ALL of them or those identified as requiring support to fit the organization as it needs and wants to be as a whole.  Those who practice are typically systems thinkers, with a view on how people, process and systems work (or don’t) together. We discover how a system may work against its own interests and support it to evolve to serve those interests instead, not in doing anything to the system but by supporting its development of a more effective way.

We support pursuits like strategy-culture alignment and employee engagement through a variety of aforementioned people processes, including:

  • Strategy development
  • Leadership and management development
  • Team development
  • Coaching and facilitation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Large group interventions
  • Succession planning
  • Talent acquisition, retention and development
  • The list goes on…

…but OD professionals do not typically specialize in a single process. We usually have a capacity for multiple processes. Our specialty is in getting to know the system and what it may need, then figuring out the process to support it through research, drawing from our professional community, and trial and adaptation.

As a coach supports an individual to their own growth and development, so do OD professionals support an organization and all its individuals to its whole growth and development. To do this, we must start by engaging the very top level. If leadership is unwilling to change, there is little hope for the whole system to do so. That is the rub. On the subject of employee engagement, for OD, it isn’t about managing employees to engage; it’s about engaging employees, and we can support leadership and management to develop the capacity to do so effectively. Transformation of an organization requires every single member to develop new capacities. We can support that process, too.

If, as a leader, you are looking to take your organization to a new level or in a different direction, we can support you to evolve your organization, as a whole, to move that way. Call on us via OD professional organizations such as the OD Network or the International Society of Organization and Change as well as higher education such as Benedictine or Case Western Reserve University. You can bring us in as external or internal consultants as we do our best work in autonomy from the system, not tucked in to a department, other than perhaps the C-Suite.

We, Organizational Development professionals, look forward to serving your organization’s strategic development needs.

Be well.

I have started facilitating sessions with folks in job clubs on the subject of Building Trust in Transition.  In preparation, I shared my drafts with a couple of colleagues, and one colleague, Steve Gawron, suggested addressing Grief In Transition as a precursor.  So I have, recognizing that along the lines of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, some folks may just not be in a place to think about, let alone address, actioning trust in their lives.

I also attended a professional development network meeting where Lee Hecht Harrison introduced us to a method they offer to help companies through change.  As we discussed the process that employees traverse as they deal with change, it occurred to me that the issues we face with regard to change are fundamentally involved with the grief process.  Bottom line, change is about the loss of what has been, moving toward what is to be.  Evidence exists that the grief process, although most evident with the loss of a loved one, is also observed with the loss of employment and other stressors.  So, although we may not negotiate grief to the depths we do in these more stressful situations, it must be our human nature to do so to some degree, though at different paces depending on personality, with regard to all loss; hence, with all change.

Change has been dubbed “The New Normal”, and rightly so, though it occurs to me that the quote “the only constant is change” has been around, well, since well before our “New Normal”.  I find that simply bringing awareness of the grief process to folks in transition makes it all the more bearable, transition that is.  There comes a sense of camaraderie in learning it is simply part of our human nature, that it is a process, that it is a process we can witness once aware of the steps, and a process with which we can eventually become comfortable with practice. 

And so it can be with the grief of change.  Let’s say change is the ocean, vast and looming.  As it hits shore, it crashes in waves, large waves down to small waves.  Each time I visit the beach, I always take my first encounter to just watch.  I stand, or sit, and watch the waves come in.  I look beyond the waves to the seeming calm.  Next, I reacquaint myself with the water, ankle-deep first, then inch myself in deeper until I must hop over the smaller waves.  At waist deep, I must jump up and over to keep my head above water.  Eventually, I become used to the rhythm of the waves, they become familiar.  I actually start to enjoy them passing as if through me.  Then, I take on the larger waves.  I dive straight into them, confident.  Then it is time to swim on through them to the other side where my feet no longer touch bottom, where I tread water and float in calmness and familiarity and trust in my ability to swim.

No doubt you, the reader, may approach the ocean in a different fashion for all kinds of reasons.  Perhaps you are completely unfamiliar with the ocean.  Perhaps unfamiliar, mostly, with how to manage an encounter with the ocean.  Perhaps fearful of this unknown entity.  We are like that with change, aren’t we?  Each approaching change in our unique way, each encountering the grief process as individuals at different paces.  And what if each of us was aware of the commonality among us to traverse grief as a process?  And what if we each was gifted with the realization that it is normal, part of being human?  And what if we all knew with certainty that the last stage of grief is acceptance, light at then end of the “grief tunnel”?

Awareness of the grief associated with change could very well be our saving grace toward success in a changing world.  Let’s appreciate grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance – in each other, and support one another through it by sharing our grief experiences and its process.  Let’s all get to treading change, calmly and confidently, to succeed in this “new normal” world.

Hugs out to ya…

~ Jacqueline