Last post from the ‘Democratising Learning’ conference I promise.
During the group discussion on the barriers to creating meaningful learning organisations the conversation moved to what was stopping the individual ‘going for it’. The answer that came up from nearly everyone was fear/lack of courage. On sitting and reflecting on both the conversation and the conference as a whole I came to the conclusion that there was no better analogy (and the spark for a wry smile) for the requirements of an OD professional than Dorothy’s companions in the Wizard of Oz…
The Lion of course needed courage. You could argue that the OD professional doesn’t need courage but I would argue that not every challenge made either to the organisation or individual leaders can be ‘laid off’ with someone for support or necessarily would work if it was supported. The individual needs at times to just have the courage to act – to make the challenge and attempt to change the status quo.
The Scarecrow of course needed a brain. Whether it’s to understand the specifics of the variety of business disciplines we need to interact with, the agility to pick up a given situation or strategy quickly enough to be effective or to be able to understand how any intervention will affect the entire system I would say that intelligence (in it’s many forms) are a prerequisite for OD.
The Tin Man
The Tin Man needed a heart. When I say an OD professional needs heart I’m not necessarily advocating either a) that they wear it on their sleeves or b) that it is the guiding force in every action BUT understanding that the consequences of many of things we do have real impacts on real people should be factored in to the way we operate. The other requirement for heart is more to emotional intelligence – understanding the ‘why’ people do things and using that to grow understanding of motivation and agendas I believe will make the way we operate far more effective.
If this all seems very lightweight I did say it would spark a wry smile and there was a much more grown up discussion on a similar topic at the CIPD conference last year, my take on which you can find here. Saying that, whether you work in OD, have OD accountabilities or work with OD professionals stop for a moment and ask yourself, if they all had courage, brains and heart and used them in the right balance, would they/you be more effective?
P.S. I have thought of all red shoe, yellow brick road and friends of Dorothy gags and have ceased to find any of them funny