The one with the influential session

So best laid plans of mice and men….and I only made it to one day of the CIPD conference in Manchester. I must confess spending most of the morning distracted by my Movember fundraising session (and a brief presentation on developing leaders) and then it was time for lunch. One of the sessions I made it to in the afternoon was about getting OD on the management team agenda and came in the form of a panel discussion between Mike Hawes, Director of Talent, B&Q; Catherine Devitt, Director of People and OD, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Mandy Bromley, Global OE Director, Unilever

The opening question from the chairman was about defining OD and I must confess at this point I got a little disheartened as what appeared were 3 subjective definitions of OD (and a challenge about OD needing to be OE) but actually these answers illustrated how OD is defined differently in different organisations, who have different challenges and need different solutions (so I became a bit more heartened)

Of the three participants two described a new CEO as key to them getting traction for their agenda and this reinforced to me the idea that actually enlightened leaders will get the value OD (and more broadly HR) can bring and it’s not for missionaries to convince the unenlightened.

Some nuggets emerged some of which I manage to capture:

  • OD isn’t about doing it’s about supporting (or facilitating) getting it done
  • It shouldn’t just be neat/cool interventions this has to actually achieve outcomes
  • Line management is as important as leadership in an effective organisation
  • A lot of OD is about common sense
  • Asking questions, re-framing situations and helping people think differently are key
  • OD practitioners needn’t be HR people: some of the best are from the business

Mike Hawes discussed an equation they’ve used at B&Q which he believed he read in a book somewhere and thanks to the wonder that is Google I have discovered he was referring to Gleicher’s Formula which looks like this:

D x V x F > R

D = Dissatisfaction

V = Vision

F = First steps towards change

R = Resistance to change

B&Q had applied this in understanding what they need to achieve and where they needed to focus to ensure it was effective. I do like a nice model/equation so this one seemed worthy of sharing (and will no doubt appear in a slide pack soon)

The final question that made it to my notes surrounding the qualities required of a person to be effective in OD and through the discussion four main themes emerged:

  • Change – require a divine discontent about the possibility things can always be better
  • System – needing to understand the impact of intervention on the broader system not just in isolation
  • Business – the need to make things real for the business not just a ‘pie in the sky’ solution
  • Resilience – that OD is lonely (sobs into keyboard), requires the individual to challenge a lot and the individual needs to be able to cope with that

From a session that started off with all the signs of just being full of ‘this is what we did at X company’ it ended up being very interesting and I left not wanting my money back (N.B. I hadn’t paid!)



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2 responses to “The one with the influential session

  1. I’m glad you got some value out of CIPD12, even if you weren’t there for as long as initially intended. I think one of the reasons why OD is confusing for so many is because to some the D stands for Development and for others it refers to Design. On a separate subject, I too like a formula to help me comprehend complex situations. I have been using a variation of Gleicher’s Formula for a while, as a means of enabling and encouraging talk about change (I wrote about it last year:

  2. Pingback: The one where it’s OZ not OD | Masters or Bust

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