From tradition to experimenting new approaches
The second day of the ODN Europe conference was definitely full of food for thought. It was really hard to pick on topic but like a good OD practitioner I found a theme in the thoughts that were going on in my head.
I think it was like living the OD journey, honouring the foundation of the discipline to its evolution. The day started with a talk titled “On the shoulder of Giants” that focused on purpose. What was our individual reason we came into the field. Basically, it got back to the basics of our founders, what was it they really cared about and those values that are so unique to OD, working with purpose (this was an amazing talk which I will later talk about). This continued through the Community Workshop were we used Future Search to look into our past narrative and see where we as individuals, the world and the practice of OD have been through until the present.
Personally this Future Search exercise brought a lot of personal insight for me. It showed me what I have achieved not only as an individual but as an OD practitioner, but also brought to light some of my “blind spots” around the practice. I love OD but all the history I know about OD is American, so when it came to write about OD in Europe all I knew was about its conception within the Tavistock Institute which coincided with its conception in NTL in the US and how both work parallel during that time. The rest… was new for me. It was interesting to see the Universities, Institutes and organisations that championed OD in Europe. The rise of ODN Europe in 2013 (for the second time) and that need for us as practitioners to get together which has enhance the sense of community I felt during these two days.
This evolution showed more in my concurrent session which was around “Contrafactualization” which was led by Cliff Oswick. Trialling new approaches to interventions, using a different perspective to understand organisations and seeing as practitioners what we could draw upon the experience and whether we felt it would lead to a possible new approach. Cliff explored finding similarities among opposites, and differences between equals as a way of questioning themes in organisations. It worked as it created insight and new ways of thinking about different topics, so it will be interesting to see how we can develop this further.
The interesting thing as we moved through the timeline of OD during the day, was that what we talked at the beginning with John Scherer, Purpose, was present in all of these. The mission of OD to help create inclusive, people centred, change at different levels to provide organisations with a better way and reach success was at the heart of it, helping organisations become a better version of themselves.
It reaffirmed once more why I am so passionate about Organisation Development and what we do with our clients day in and day out. It is much more that what happens in the four walls in the organisation, is how those four walls can impact so many more lives beyond it.
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