#HRD11 final thoughts Part 2

In the last post in a series of learnings from #HRD11, I turn my attention to the interesting world of Organisational Development and Change Management. There’s a lot of jargon and titles thrown around these days when we talk about these topics that it makes my head hurt. OD consultant, change practitioner, change agent, L&OD, frameworks, models, theories, facilitation (I LOVE facilitation, but come on), blah, blah. GO SUCK AN EGG. This is a long post, so you’ve been warned.

It seems to me that we’d all be better off if we took the time to understand what OD and change management are trying to achieve. As an interesting aside, at one of the seminars I attended, we were presented with a case study of the botched redundancy announcement the Armed Forces made to those serving on the front-line. The question was posed, “as change practitioners, what change management would you put into place?”. But that’s not about change management, that’s about internal comms. And that’s arguably a department unto itself, but equally the responsibility of every person in the organisation dealing with internal and external clients on a daily basis.

I think what’s happening is we’re getting blind-sided by people too afraid to look at what the issue is that needs to be addressed and are happy throwing the monkey to someone who may or may not be the best person to deal with the situation. Everything seems to need an OD or Change Management initiative (grr, bloody initiatives). In certain projects you can see how this makes an awful lot of sense. Cutbacks demand hardcore black belt project management types to make the change happen and work hand in hand with OD types who can facilitate the people side of things. But for the most part, most organisations aren’t facing those truly organisational challenges.

For the most part, organisations are facing issues such as: “how’s our employee engagement survey coming along?” “are our internal comms effective?” “we need to refresh our competency frameworks” “Let’s take onboarding and revamp it” “our reward and recognition scheme is out of date” – WAIT, are you thinking what I am? They’re not organisational issues, they’re (mostly) HR issues? So where’s the organisational stuff? You know, the stuff that actually affects… the organisation? For all the above, I don’t believe for a second you need to have dedicated OD/change management types dealing with them. You need someone who understands how to use the skills to deal with them, and those might cross into those fields, but it’s far from being a true OD/change management issue.

So what issues should we be looking at? Have a read of Neil Morrison’s post on this very topic. There’s a piece in there about dealing with ambiguity (interestingly this came up in my post yesterday too). Organisations face truly organisational issues such as “we have to move office because our current one doesn’t suit our needs, and while we’re at it, we’ll be merging 3 offices into one building”. That’s the kind of event where you need someone who can manage that change, facilitate the change and make it happen. Is that OD? Is it Change management? Is it Project Management? As I’ve said before, I don’t think it matters, what matters is it gets done.

But, and here’s the bit I think is key, regardless of which approach you choose to take, the important piece in any of this is the discussion. Not engagement, not communication, but discussion. We’re getting so misplaced with the process (as Neil quite rightly points out) that we forget the discussion is what it’s all about. Actually what happens is, in hindsight we say, “wow, that discussion on the change was bloody amazing, we should have captured that because it was really rich”. And then when the next change comes along, we neglect the discussion again.

That’s the one thing any of your/us OD consultants/change management types need to be able to do. Enable a discussion. And the great thing about thinking about it in this way is that it doesn’t matter who knows best. We can all have a discussion. Some of us just know how to facilitate them in different ways.

So. There you have it. Thanks #HRD11, it was informative and helped me direct my thoughts on certain topics. Let’s dance again sometime. Next year perhaps?

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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.

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