Sustainable OD

A blog dedicated to the wonderfull field of Organisation Development

It’s the People Stupid…

Oh I really love hearing Nitta Clarke and David Macleod speak. Towards the end of last year I had the fortune of hearing them both at a Hay Group Engagement Forum and at the Engage for Success Open Evening. 

Why do I value their speeches so much?

To be honest, they say a lot of things I think, but 1) are brave enough to say it out loud to anyone no matter who they are and 2) have years beyond my experience so I always like to know I am not completely insane or alone in my battle to make engagement a strategic topic.

The title of this blog entry was inspired by something Nita said, and something I have been talking about for years. No matter what you change, what you re-engineer, or if you have fabulous systems and processes in place, it is the people that make the difference.

I think a lot of organisations are starting to see it. I am not convinced many know what to do with this information as it provides a real eye opening statement. A lot of us converted ones who have always believed this find it common sense, but actually in practice and in my interactions with clients; it seems it is world apart of what business world used to focus on.

It’s not only a millennials vs baby boomers problem either. Every day people are looking at work differently than they used to, as an extension of self rather than something to pay the bills. People recognise the “job for life” has long died and now want a two-way relationship with their employer.

Even more challenging, people are expecting managers to be leaders and inspire rather than just hand out work or instructions. Managers and leaders at all levels are now expected to gain the employees trust and respect rather than these existing by default because of their titles.

So a lot of change in the workplace, and as many OD professionals know when we talk about such a dramatic change in culture, mindset, and behaviours it is not an overnight thing. Just another phrase from Nitta “engagement is not putting lipstick on a pig” it is about embedding it within the culture of the organisation.

So from an OD perspective if you are new to this what can you do?

  • First breathe, it is not going to be an easy battle and it may feel like a battle at times
  • Find out where you are, whether it is an employee survey, random interviews, focus groups, or a mix of all of these. Try to understand how you currently do in regards to the four enablers.
  • Does your organisation have a strategic narrative and vision? If it doesn’t help them find it! Why not even give Appreciative Inquiry a try using their stage of Dreaming the future?
  • Once you know where you are and where you want to get to work with a mix of staff to get there. Both top/down and grass roots approaches work have a huge impact.
  • Focus on grass roots if you don’t have leadership buy-in and build case studies in their language to highlight the successes.
  • Be pleasantly persistent, some organisations move slower than others

Want more information about Engage for Success visit their website at:

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