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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Communication and OD

When thinking about communication and OD, what seems most important is engaging employees’ hearts and minds. This happens at all levels of the organization through both formal and informal communication channels. When the communication channels are bi-directional, employees feel more engaged. When there is clarity in the organizations’ central mission and employees understand their specific part in achieving the mission, they will be self-motivated to set expectations on their own that are often higher than those the organization may ask of them. Their actions will become more intrapreneurial with a strong sense of accountability. Effective communication plays a key part in the engagement and internalization by each employee toward the mission.

A good example of a communication platform that enables the voice of the employee to be heard is through Forums and Blogs. In our company, in addition to traditional forms of communication such as email, conference calls, town meetings and employee sat surveys, we use Forums and Blogs on a number of topics to create communities of practice within the organization. This is especially powerful given our rapid, global expansion over the past several years. Forums and Blogs help to level the playing field by enabling all to participate without geographical constraints. In particular, we have had the request to create Forums/Blogs for participants of our leadership development programs so they can continue to exchange ideas and support each other regardless of their geographical location after the training is over.

Because people are now accustomed to having so many distractions (TV, iPod, etc), many are missing self-awareness due to lack of down time and subsequently impacting their ability to relate effectively to others. We have a challenge to capture the members hearts and minds, and an obligation to engage them in the mission of the organization by providing platforms for them to have a voice in shaping the mission.

Gillian Orlinsky

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Di.a.logic training report

Hello all!
As mentioned, last month I won a day's training on "The 4 D's of a Dialogue Culture" (run locally through Weisman Consulting) on the condition that I report back some learnings. The training was last Thursday, and I was grateful to have gone.

The Di.a.logic technique organizes information about how to improve effectiveness in individual and group conversations, primarily targeting a business setting.

Two parts of the day I liked especially well. We spent some time working through an exercise based on the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, swapping cards until we had a hand which reflected our personalities. The cards were color-coded to show what traits often went together, and sure enough, I ended up completely "red-handed". It was a personal way to bring home how different people bring different skills and perspectives to the group, and how that provides creative potential as well as stress and difficulty.

When the training covered "surfacing undiscussables" participants started figuring out how this principle might apply to their own situations. This, of course, is when it gets juicy. Real life situations are complex, but we did a valiant job struggling with them, and had a very nice talk about how to handle cultures where trust had disintegrated. Some points in that particular discussion included:

  • Trust is built on stepping out without getting killed. You connect on one little thing, take one little risk, and see what happens. If you don't get killed you can take a little step further.
  • You can only affect yourself, not the other person you're (talking, working) with. If you want more trust, ask yourself - what can I do to be more trusting, more trustworthy?
  • What is the lack of trust based on? How do we understand the assumptions we make about another person's actions?
  • What is the role of forgiveness, what does this look like institutionally/in a business setting
  • If you're waiting for the other person to do something that will restore trust, you're going to be waiting a long time. You have to take the first step.
I'm pretty fascinated by this and would be glad to hear other thoughts.

As a student of trainings, I was also paying attention to how the day flowed. The trainers broke up the reflection into individuals alone, discussion in pairs, table conversations (two pairs) and the full room. I thought this worked well - it felt predictable enough to be safe while introducing variety in the level and amount of perspective. Generally, I thought the activity level and type of exercises worked really well in sequence. Even standing up in a circle and holding a sign while talking felt like a meaningful switch in activity from discussing the concept sitting down.

Thanks for sending me!

Susan Loucks

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What is the role of OD practitioners in leadership development?

What is the role of OD practitioners in leadership development?

Our April 2008 program was on “”Four Types of Conversation”. Led by long-time Learning Group member Brian McDonald of MOR Associates, we used a key Learning Group principle, action learning, to explore the role of life experiences in making us into leaders and how that organizations can create similar opportunities to enhance and expand leadership.

For our Question of the Month, we have selected a related question: how OD practice relates to leadership development. Of course we welcome member discussion on related issues in this area.

Jim Murphy