Open OD practise

In order to be able to comment on and provide my thoughts on the L&OD world, I have to put into practise what I preach, otherwise I’m just a voice in the wind with little credibility. This is one of the reasons I enjoy blogging. It helps me to voice opinions on topics, and then gives me clarity of thought about how I intend to move forward.

I’m fairly new to my current organisation, actually I’m a full 3 months in – go me! In this role, I’ve been trying to get to grips with all things OD and how they are manifest. Up until I started, pretty much all OD type initiatives have been about L&D solutions provided by external providers. We haven’t sought to use internal knowledge or experience in delivering the range of L&D solutions we need. We’ve also typically brought in external practitioners to help with OD projects around things such as team development workshops, coaching, and management development.

One of the things I needed to do, was to get my head around the range of what those activities look like, and so I decided to hold an OD summit. To this summit I invited our internal people who helped co-ordinate or deliver OD in some way, and our external partners. We got together for a few hours, and talked about everything from the strategy of the organisation, some of the upcoming high profile projects, and sought input on things like the strengths of the organisation and where we can do more.

It was great. I was open with our suppliers and told them that none of the conversation would lead to a guarantee of work, and that I didn’t expect to be chased with follow up calls to ‘chase the lead’ or anything of the sort. I made clear that the purpose was to co-create an understanding of what OD could look like for the organisation and have a shared understanding of what the future could look like. Some of the things we came up with jointly were:
– giving our partners access to our LMS in order that they can upload material for people attending specific courses
– doing more to promote the importance of the scheduling and delivery of the courses so there was less drop out rate
– the need to help more people become IT confident

Further to that, it gave me some ideas around ensuring that I find ways to keep our partners up to date with OD within the organisation so they’re getting the information first hand. I also felt that our partners had a better shared understanding of what we are jointly working towards, and what part they all play in the scheme of things.

I’m also going to put a call out to ask for a set of internal facilitators to be trained in delivering a range of personal development courses. Currently we do this for some of the technical or specialist subjects we have and it works pretty well. What I’ve found, though, is we could expand this capability internally and encourage involvement from more parts of the organisation in the design and delivery of OD. After all, OD isn’t just my responsibility, it’s anyone who takes an interest in helping to shape the future of the organisation.

I confess, this idea is not an original one – I’m stealing it shamelessly from a conversation I had with Andy Lancaster and Mike Collins at the last L&D Connect unconference. Well done them!

Some of this may seem like run of the mill stuff, and I guess that’s partly the point. OD doesn’t have to be about the big flashy project, it can also be about the easy solutions which help make a difference.