Capabilities of an OD Professional

 

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I think we’re off to a great start. Thanks to all of you who visited the blog over the last few days, and left your comments here and on LinkedIn. It has helped me refine my thinking and prepare for this next blogpost and, as any OD professional worth his salt knows, our ability to bring impact is a factor of the collaboration and partnership received from the system we work in. So here’s looking forward to more participation and contribution from all of you who come here to read, share, learn, question, critique and teachback!

Spring

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The logical next step clearly seems to be to talk about the competencies of an Organization Development professional.

According to Abhishek (who has an interesting blog on HR/Management/Employee Engagement), the competencies are:

Strong business sense: understanding of business drivers, systems innovation, systems thinking, mission orientation
Leadership: Develops trust, understands individual and group behaviour, decisiveness, risk-taking, collaborator, passionate communicator
Strong in HR systems: Aligns people processes & business needs, customer orientation

My good friend Neetubala has left probably the most detailed note:

1. Impact – Creating a good first impression, commanding attention and respect, showing an air of confidence.
2.Emotional Intelligence – When we talk about “applying behavioral science knowledge” Emotional

Book Cover
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Intelligence is the core competency OD professional must possess. EI will help an OD professional to sense the challenges in an organization perceiving rightly the concerns and challenge of its employees. So EI gives an effortless insight into psyche of people and hence the teams and groups within an organization. As said “Humans are not the creatures of logic but emotions”.
3.Building Positive Working Relationships and Trust – Developing and using collaborative relationships to facilitate the accomplishment of work goals. Interacting with others in a way that gives them confidence in one’s intentions and those of the organization.
4. Mentoring & Coaching – Providing timely guidance and feedback to help others strengthen specific knowledge/skill areas needed to accomplish a task or solve a problem.
5.Influencing and Gaining Commitment – Using appropriate interpersonal styles and techniques to gain acceptance of ideas or plans; modifying one’s own behavior to accommodate tasks, situations, and individuals involved.
6. Managing Conflict – Dealing effectively with others in an antagonistic situation; using appropriate inter-personal styles and methods to reduce tension or conflict between two or more people.
7. Strategic Decision Making – Obtaining

Cover for the Business Strategy Wikibook.
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information and identifying key issues and relationships relevant to achieving a long-range goal or vision; committing to a course of action to accomplish a long-range goal or vision after developing alternatives based on logical assumptions, facts, available resources, constraints, and organizational values.

As you can see, the above 2 responses have clearly detailed what’s needed for an OD professional to have an impact.

My 2 cents:

1. Business Business Business – Too often OD professionals tend to get lost in their own jargon and processes. We need to develop an ability to have a business conversation at the C-level in a manner that gets them to pay attention to us and see us as a partner who can help them achieve their goals and objectives.

Second, it is imperative that we understand the nuts and bolts of the business. The key internal and external drivers of the business we work in.

Third, our ability to be able to predict key business challenges and come up with solutions in partnership with the business.

So here’s a test:

Do you know what’s EBITDA? PBT? PAT? and the difference between Operating Profit and Net Profit?

Do you know Porter’s model for Strategy? BCGs matrix model for Strategic choices?

Porter's 5 Forces Cartoon
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Do you understand the key macroeconomic forces that impact your business?

Who are the top 5 players in the industry your business operates in? What are their chosen strategies for competing? What are their EBITDA/PBT/PAT? What is their P/E? And find out the same for your business.

An OD professional who is not grounded in the business, will not have a seat at the table. Period.

2. Confronting/Truth-telling – Our primary role

Truth
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and the one way in which we can add key value, is to put the elephant on the table. Those things which no one else will talk about, those things that employees talk (bitch) about over a beer but will never say in public. Those things which everyone knows, but never discusses. Those are the things which an OD professional must say, give voice to, bring to the top of the table and uncover. We must ask difficult questions. We must give voice to the unsaid. We are the ones who must speak-up when no one else does.

How do you do this?

Build Trust. A level of trust where the C-Level leadership reaches out to you to learn about what they need to do more/less of.

Build processes. That create occasions for truth-telling. That create the space for truth-telling.

Guts. Just plain good old courage. In the face of all kinds of resistance and dissuasion, and OD professional must be able to find a way to tell the truth. Does this

President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela, Ju...
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lead to suicide – sometimes. But the key skill is to build an ability to speak truth in a way that people will listen.

3. Synthesis. Our business colleagues are highly skilled at Analysis. Trust me, the breakthrough lies not so much in analysis as in Synthesis.

Synthesis is the ability to look at different parts, and combine them into a meaningful whole. The ability to look at a set of issues, solutions, options, and combine them into an elegant solution. Synthesis is about picking up the unseen patterns in a system or a group and finding the common thread that binds them all, resulting in elegant solutions that achieve greater impact. An example of Synthesis – a blogpost I wrote about Future Organizations

Where Analysis is about breaking down, synthesis is about pulling together.

OD professionals can bring the ability to synthesize to the strategy table, to a business decision, and add tremendous value.

The above 3 are what I believe will enable an Organization Development practitioner to deliver value to the business. Not an exhaustive list, but a definitive one I hope.

And lastly, let me say this, each one of us has to have very high ego-strength and emotional resilience. As people who have to facilitate change, we will face many frustrations and setbacks. Sometimes success will be a long time coming, and there will be many nay-sayers (both overt and covert), our ability to maturely handle stress, delays, setbacks and to continue to keep motivations high, will be critical!

As I move on to the next series of posts, I aim to do the following:

Discuss specific cases/examples

Discuss more about the HOW rather than the WHAT. This, I believe, will lead to building capability and will provide you the tools you can use, to get more done.

I hope this helps!

As always, please contribute. Share your thoughts. Add comments. Share stories of success and failure. We learn for both. And lastly, share this blog. Invite more people to this conversation. The more brains we bring to the table, the richer we are!

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About gurprrietsiingh

CxO-Level Executive Coach Change consultant. Tai Chi learner Beer Lover Aspirational Parent and Partner Sci Fi reader Mistake Maker Challenger
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9 Responses to Capabilities of an OD Professional

  1. sushma says:

    I will add few more
    Intuitive sensing ,
    Using self as an instrument of change
    Ability to diagnose
    Creative and innovative thinking
    Here and now experiencing to design interventions on the fly
    Listening listening , listening , deeper and deeper , deeper

    • gurprrietsiingh says:

      Listening, Listening, Listening – Awesome!

      Ability to listen to the unsaid. Ability to Listen with the eyes and the ears. Ability to listen with all the senses. We call it sensitivity! Sensibility! The ability to use all the senses – including intuition to pick up nuances, patterns and all kinds of covert signals. Process. Diagnose. Synthesize. And develop solutions.

      Thank you Sushma!

  2. Abhishek says:

    Spot on! One surely needs to understand the business in and out. Without understanding the business, your interventions may not be appropriately designed for the business and you can have a tough time demonstrating the utility to the C-suite.

    And yes, synthesis such an important thing, and a rare skill too.

  3. Neha says:

    I guess one of the essentials is intent and emotional commitment too. Awesome read overall!

    • gurprrietsiingh says:

      Well said, Neha. Emotional commitment is critical and you just triggered a thought, so I will add to my note now! Thanks!

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  7. Another thought provoking post, thank you for sharing. Like others, I have my own point of view and I agree to the capabilities required for OD. My top list is –

    1. Business – If OD professionals don’t know the business, the need to know how to ask questions, where to find information and learn the context quickly
    2. Systems thinking – Can’t do without this. OD is about fitting pieces of the puzzle together, clarify what the goal is and catalyze movement towards this goal.
    3. Process consultation and Action Research – According to me, this is what our work is. Another can’t do without, according to me. OD is about conversations and dialog. Getting into depth of situation/ context and identifying pragmatic solutions to it. There is a process in everything and the OD consultation needs to be based on dialog that leads to the evolution/ change process
    4. Adaptability and flexibility – Another neccessity. Adaptability requires efficient listening to know how to adapt. This interestingly has not been mentioned by anyone explicitly and I wonder why. I feel one of the main requirements for us is to be able to shift our course as required and that takes a lot of flexibility.
    5. Emotions management – OD professionals need to balance and manage their emotions effectively. Knowing not to take things personally. The ability to manage passion without getting overly emotional about it. Its like enjoying a drink or smoke without becoming an addict. This addiction can easily blind consultants. I have deliberately stayed away from using Emotional Intelligence because I feel the term is not appropriately comprehended by many.

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