Discussion forum for members of the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group

Friday, November 04, 2005

What is the future of OD?

Our November 3 meeting featured a presentation by Jeana Wirtenberg and Tom Rich on the recent study by the Global Committee on the Future of OD on their survey of 16,000 business and 5000 nonprofit leaders on how they see their OD needs and how they intend to meet them. Among the many interesting facts learned were that business leaders generally see themselves as needing help on OD issues and intend to invest more in this area but that most do not conceive of OD practitioners as the option of choice for providing such help.

Following the presentation of the report, we held small group sessions to discuss four questions on the future of OD and to brainstorm on what OD practitioners need to do be ready for the challenges ahead. We will be offering the fruits of those sessions later, but in the meantime we invite Learning Group members and presenters, whether they attended or not, to continue our dialogue on the following:

1. What competencies, knowledge and skills do OD practitioners need to possess to contribute to the challenges and opportunities business leaders are facing?

2. How can OD change and improve its branding, marketing and positioning particularly among executives and line managers?

3. What do you see as the Future of OD? Does/should OD have a unique identity that OD practitioners “own,” or is our focus more on transferring OD competencies and knowledge to business leaders and/or project managers so that they can be more self-sufficient? What other alternatives should we consider?

4. From a structural perspective, do you think OD belongs in HR as a separate function, in the line organization reporting directly to a CEO or Operating VP, or somewhere else (e.g., embedded into part of the HR Business Partner’s role)? And why?

We would note that many of our upcoming program meetings will provide further learning on and discussion of these issues. In January, we will examine “Careers and Work in OD,” with small group sessions on, “What Should I Do to Improve My Grounding and Skills in OD?”, “What Are the Hot New Practice Areas?”, “Are HR and OD Allies or Enemies?,” and other topics. In February, we will learn how to master the language of business in “OD Meets MBA”. We will be reviewing “Best Practices in Six Areas of OD” in March and Leadership models in April. In August, we will be exploring a model for OD’s role in “Supporting Strategy,” and in November we practice “Authentic and Effective Communication”. In the meantime, on December 8 we will hear Otto Scharmer on the relationship between OD and world change.