Rules Veteran OD Practitioners Know . . . And Sometimes Forget
Randi S. Brenowitz
article originally appeared in the Newsletter of the Bay Area
OD Network, Winter, 2002
this time of the year, many of us have already broken our New
Year's Resolutions. This year, rather than trying to adhere to
new resolutions, I decided to stick to some I already know
sometimes forget. I offer them to you as a way to frame your work
as you build a successful, productive, and meaningful practice
#1 - The Person Who Signed The Contract/PO Is The Client
- Although we certainly have a responsibility to the whole system/company
and to our own professional integrity, we must remember that meeting
the needs of the person who actually hired us is a key priority.
If our client is doing something that goes against the values
or vision of the organization, it is our role to help him or her
see that and to create options so that both the client and the
organization get the results they need. However, we must maintain
our commitment to the client and the confidentiality of any discussions
we have had with him or her. This rule gets even murkier when
the person who hired us is an internal HR or OD professional who
is working as a "broker" for the client organization.
In that case, roles need to be negotiated, but in the end, the
client is that HR/OD person and our accountability is to him or
#2 - The Latest "In" Intervention May Not Be What The
Client Needs - After spending the last 20+ years in the
OD profession, I get a little bored with some of the "old"
interventions. I am eager to use the new ones that I heard about
at the last ODN Conference or in the last book I read. The new
methods have generally come from good research and anecdotal evidence,
and they reflect a modern understanding of the current business
environment. For those reasons, they are frequently the right
intervention for a given situation. On the other hand, I must
constantly ask myself if this is truly the case, or if I am using
the new intervention simply because I want to play with a new
toy. Sometimes, the old standard interventions are best suited
to the client's needs even if I'd rather "play" with
#3 - The Client Is Interested In Solutions
- This may seem unnecessary if we follow Rules #1 and #2. It's
one of those things we may forget, however, when we create our
marketing message and go on sales calls. We can get caught up
in the "sales" mentality and try to sell an intervention
rather than work with the client to determine the best course
of action. This becomes even more problematic when the client
calls and asks for a specific intervention: "We need you
to do a Meyers-Briggs session with us." Or "We need
to run a Search Conference. Do you do that?" In those cases,
we must gently ask questions so that we (and the client) gain
a better understanding of the client's needs and we can recommend
the appropriate intervention.
#4 - HR Is Our Friend - This rule is dear to my heart,
as I spent the early years of my career as an HR professional.
Although we, like every profession, have a variety of specialties,
our clients see us all as "the people people." Many
of us are in the business of consulting with our clients to help
them build collaborative partnerships. When we fight with our
HR colleagues, it calls our competence into question. If we are
truly committed to Rule #1, we will partner with the HR people
to ensure that all of the client's organizational needs are met.
#5 - You Are Who You Are - In our attempts to follow the
above rules, we must never forget our own values and boundaries.
Although we should always be open to learning and growth opportunities,
we must also remain true to our own standards and integrity. This
may mean that a particular client may dislike your "style"
and not want to work with you, or it may mean walking away from
work you know is not suited to you. In these lean economic times,
this may be the hardest rule of all to follow.
my experience, when I follow these rules I tend to do my best
work. When I forget them, the work is harder and I enjoy it less.
Brenowitz is an Organization Development Consultant who is committed
to improving corporate productivity through the development of
high-performance, team-based, collaborative organizations. Having
worked both as an internal and an external consultant, she brings
a unique blend of skills--the experience, knowledge, instincts,
and political savvy of the successful insider, and the objectivity,
neutrality, and balance of the perceptive outsider. You can get
more sage advice (and other information) by calling Randi at 650-843-1611,
or going to www.brenowitzconsulting.com.