True organisational development takes place when you bring together two groups of people, solve a problem together and then follow through on those actions when you’re carrying out your day to day.
You have to take the stance that there is something inherent in the way these two groups which is actively working against the grain.
I used to work for a TV shopping channel. There used to be very regular debates about the products selected for prime spots, the level of detail provided for them, how much airtime they received, and pricing points. On one end of the argument you had the broadcasting team wanting to improve the on air experience. On the other you had the merchandising team who wanted to optimise the sell. They were both right in their assertions. What was missing was they weren’t having those discussions together.
It took some honest dicsussions with the directors of both departments to help them see and hear each others points of view. It took a joint away day with their top teams to ensure they were hearing these myths and assumptions together. Ultimately they realised they all needed to be present at the product selection meeting that took place every week because that was the forum for these discussions.
The saying it can be hard to see the wood for the trees comes to mind here. For both groups, they had valid points of view and were both right. That’s an important appreciation from an OD perspective.
If I’m to resolve conflict I have to have true empathy with both parties. Their reality drives their behaviour. If I dismiss it or belittle it, I can’t help them because I’ve already decided they’re wrong and they don’t know what they’re talking about.
This is also the kind of situation where anecdotes are highly useful. There are a good many people who would argue that you need data to make change happen. The fact is, you only need data to support your position because there is a lack of trust in your word. That may not be intentional, but it’s true.
When I trust that what you’re telling me has value and is honest, I’m willing to have that conversation about change. When I don’t and ask you to prove it, is the right atmosphere for conflict to take place.