>It’s my job, I just do it

>So. This week I talk about the closing gap between L&D and OD. Hmm. Here’s what I’ll be talking about.

I’ve been asked to provide a case study of what my experience in the workplace has shown me about this development. It’s quite a simple story really. When I came in to LBi, it had just passed a year of being a newly merged company. My role was initially to provide L&D service to the organisation. This included a range of activity from setting up Interview Skills training, to managing the training budget, to managing our agency CPD activity, and designing and delivering internal training courses. And that about covered a lot of activity in my first year.

My second year saw a lot of the organisational change and development I wanted to get involved in, and had the opportunity to explore. Thankfully, no-one in the business really had an agenda for L&D, so I was fairly free to push the boundaries in the way I thought (and still think) best. So last year saw a lot of activity done in developing a competency framework for the business. This is now being rolled out, but it took a long time to get there. The business has company values which no-one really understood. From there it was a case of defining them into terms staff understood, not PR talk, plain English talk. After that, I worked with each department, and levels within departments to define what the values meant for them, and how their day job reflect the values.

And from this we now have our competency framework. It’s in Version1 at the minute and will be a continual evolving beast. But this was one stage of an organisational initiative which needed to happen. If you look at the Burke-Litwin model of OD, it offers an interesting perspective about factors you need to consider when engaging in, and developing an OD initiative. I know what the organisation culture is in the business, who from the Leadership team needed to be involved, what the purpose of the competency framework was to be, which systems were currently in place to support it, what management practices are currently being carried out, where the motivation lay for the framework, and how it would support organisational and individual performance.

I won’t go into the details of the above, but I’m glad I have the Burke-Litwin model to help me consider if I approached the exercise in the right way. But I think I’m sending you on a bit of a red-herring. All I’ve done is described how I approached an OD task. I’ve not really talked about the closing gap between L&D and OD. So why is this question important? Where does it come from? And what do we hope to achieve from it?

Well, I think the question is important because in an organisation of any size where there is an L&Der of some description, the business can and does see the benefit of having such a person involved fully in providing support to the business, and (at a cynical level) serving to put a face on taking staff development seriously. What an organisation may not, and to my mind, will not realise is the benefit of having someone dedicated to OD. I’ve talked before about who tends to be an OD professional (in my post about what is Organisational Development), where I mention that it can be anyone in a business who has a mindset for dealing with OD issues.

This is not restricted to those in the HR field. Indeed, it’s anyone who identifies a business need, and helps to develop and deliver a solution which improves business performance. In the automotive industry this tends to be the engineers as they are concerned with continuous improvement and lean thinking. In healthcare it tends to be operational staff who want efficient caring of patients. In businesses it tends to be HR.

The L&Der tends to be the one from the HR and other groups, who sees that there’s a need for an organisational initiative. They tend to be the one who knows how to engage with the right people, and in the right way. They tend to be the one who know how to develop a solution and deliver it. They tend to be the one who knows how to roll it out and communicate it to the business. And that’s why there’s a growing questions of where the closing gap comes from.

What does this mean for the future of both the professions? Erm. Do you know the lottery numbers for this Saturday please? This is an academic question which will not be answered any time soon. We just have to wait and see how varying businesses respond to their organisational issues, and how these get answered. There’s an ever growing distinction of roles and responsibilities of every aspect of HR, and this is another in that mix.

For me, for now, it means business as usual. I do L&D, and I do OD in my spare time. Because that’s what’s demanded of me and my role. I enjoy it and find it challenging. There will continue to be L&Ders who find they’re asked to do OD. They won’t be going to a workshop or training course about how to transfer their skills, they’ll just get on and do it. I find the question of the closing gap slightly bizarre and frankly am unperturbed by it. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. I just don’t see it particularly adds to the profession. It’s a good question for those concerned on the matter, for me it seems another example of navel gazing which could be better time spent elsewhere.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

4 thoughts on “>It’s my job, I just do it”

  1. >Hi SukhWhere have the questions about L&D and OD come from? Is it stuff like this..:- http://www.trainingjournal.com/content/from-ld-to-od-an-irresistible-pull/I have to say my experience echoes yours. I'm not particularly concerned about labels such as L&D and I am lucky enough, like you, to be able to shape my role and do what I need to do to best help the business. If I boxed myself in according to the definitions of what L&D 'should' do, I think I'd be a very different animal. So I totally agree with your sentiment of 'It's my job, I just do it'. For me its all about the business – i.e. what can I do to help us build capability or prepare better for the future or fix a problem?The whole labels argument or even discussing it simply seems like a waste of time to me. In fact, reading that article about OD in Training Journal, it struck me that OD is a ridiculous name in some ways as if OD is about 'change and organisational improvement', then what on the earth are the rest of us doing? I mean, management of most types is essentially about constant change – it's not a separate activity. Some people are great at it and good strategic and systems thinkers. Other people are reactive and see activities in isolation. But I don't think that change and improving organisations sits with one job role. Self defeating, surely?Flora

  2. >Another excellent post Sukh and great response from Flora. I echo your thoughts around this issue. All the time spent discussing who is who, who does what, to whom, and when, and who should report to whom and so on, is time that should be spent doing our job and help organisations develop, improve and grow. I once challenged my group at Roffey on wether we should call it OD at all, followed by: Shouldn't we just do our job and help the people + the organisation improve? Do we have to label it?…I got a few funny looks but eventually the pin dropped!Oh, and I like the Burke-Litwin model too – use it all lot!

  3. >@ Flora, thanks for taking the time to comment. It's with the Training Journal that I'm presenting this week! And it was the same topic I attended a workshop on last year. I wrote about it at the time. Speaking on the topic this week gave me a focus to consider what I want to speak about. I agree with your 'labels' argument. Think you've hit the nail on the head with that one.I do think though at some point there does need to be a formal OD position that someone fulfils. Before that stage though, is where I think that the discussion is focused. L&Ders who want to move into OD, thinking they're different, where in reality they're not.@ MrAirmiles, you're echoing the same point as Flora which I love. "Shouldn't we just do our job and help the people and the organisation improve?" YES!In honesty, was only introduced to the Burke-Litwin model at the workshop, and it is a good tool.

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