OD – OT

Change Strategies – ADLT 625 – Post 2

It was incredible to hear Demetria’s explicit tale of the layoff she experienced some years ago. Even though it was over 10 years (I think), her recollection was so vivid. I can imagine it would be difficult to be unaffected by such an event and that, indeed, it would take some time to let it pass and move on.

The reading on transitions was important for me. It really helped me have some perspective on a team situation I was in that ended with the team being disbanded. There were a number of factors that led to the disbanding, but essentially the full team could not work together. There was a subgroup of the team that could work together and did, but a key member of the team was really a solo worker. While this person was very creative, intelligent – even brilliant; there was not really an atmosphere where open feedback and dialogue was possible, even though efforts were made.

The atmosphere of respect and trust never really developed despite efforts. As a result two ‘camps’ evolved within the team. I was in one ‘camp’ and really didn’t want there to be two, but the issues couldn’t be reconciled. Ultimately, the team was disbanded, partly due to logistical reasons and, I think, a major part due to its dysfunction. The transition of letting that go, being in ‘the wilderness’ and being ready for wide open future took some process for me.

Development and Transformation

I’m finding a clearer perspective on what constitutes org development (OD) and what constitutes org transformation (OT).  I understand better now that OD is more evolutionary and OT rather revolutionary. So, OD is dealing with small groups – coaching, team building, skill building — most likely resulting in incremental changes in some aspects of an organization. It’s clear that these processes are needed in an organization. And yet, I am really fascinated with the idea OT. I can understand that OT sometimes just happens due to environmental circumstances and it’s kind of a reactionary process. However, to plan a large group intervention does indeed seem on the edge of something revolutionary!

I can imagine the circumstances would definitely have to be right and enough people interested and willing to go with it. I guess it’s really a bit of a mystery to me. I can read about Open Space, or Future Search or the others mentioned where ‘the whole system is in the room’, and find it quite fascinating. I see there would be totally different way of working than in most types of strategic planning events. Having large numbers of people with diverse perspectives and interests as well as a level playing field (at least for the time being) would really create a powerful opportunity for new ideas to come forward and commitments to take hold. I can see how important it is to create the space for the participants to fill. These type of events would definitely need facilitation skills.

Part of why a large group intervention seems so mysterious to me is surely because I have never participated in one! And while reading about it and even watching a video of participants describing it gives some clues, it’s just not the same as doing it! I look forward to sampling the three different types we’re doing in class. I would also really love to be a part of a real one with a topic for which I had a deep interest.

Image: M.C. Escher, Sky and Water I, 1938

Image: M.C. Escher, Sky and Water I, 1938

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4 Responses to “OD – OT”


  1. 1 Suzanne 11 March 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Jonathan, I agree with your assessment of Demetria’s story. I have never experienced anything like that but I think the memory would remain clear because it would cause a major change in my life. It seems to me that anything traumatic, embarrassing, wonderfully fun, or just full of some strong emotions stays with us – for good reason. I think God made our memory this way so we can learn from those experiences and so we can pass on the story (or knowledge) to others to gain something from it. I have heard of some who block out bad experiences as a defense mechanism. Fortunately I have not experienced anything like this either. The mind is a mysterious thing.

    • 2 bluesky55 11 March 2010 at 1:55 pm

      Hi Suzanne,

      It’s interesting about the emotions and memory. I’m just reviewing an article for Instructional Strategies about brain function, memory, and meaningful learning. One of the things it said was that for very traumatic experiences some kind of bloc is created in the brain. It seems like this might even be a natural protective response so that really horrific memories do not haunt us relentlessly.

      The other thing this article mentions is how emotions are connected with learning and that a nurturing and yet also challenging environment can really contribute – even on a physiological basis – to deeper, more meaningful learning.

      Yes, stories are a great way to share learning. I think that I learn when I tell a story too. And sometimes I tell a story and through that telling I understand something else. So, maybe the meaning and perspective changes with each telling…! Fascinating stuff, eh? The mind… indeed, seems to be a vast subject. And beyond the mind… soul, consciousness, light…

  2. 3 Terry Carter 19 March 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Hello, Jonathan,

    This is a great post, and you have shared some interesting ideas; I am particularly pleased that you are beginning to differentiate between OD and OT. I don’t, however, think that OT just “happens” — by definition, it is an intentional process initiated by the organization to bring about revolutionary change. That said, organizations do have traumatic events that rock them to the core (even cause them to go under, for example, in this economy) but I would not consider that to be OT, since OT is a deliberate attempt to create conditions for major change brought about by those within the organization. I hope the difference between these is clear.

    Please do let me know if this is your post reflecting three or four key ideas or if this is simply a “reflective” post. I could not tell by the title or the first paragraph if it was intended to be your response to the assignment. One idea for gaining experience in large group strategies is to consider some web research within our area to see who’s conducting large group interventions and see if you can volunteer to assist in any way. You might find an opportunity to experience the “real deal!” tjc

    • 4 bluesky55 21 March 2010 at 9:19 am

      Hi Dr. Carter,

      Yes, I think I do understand that OT is an intentional effort. An organization may, in effect, be transformed due to the environment (maybe due to tendency towards homeostatis, or inability to adapt), but I don’t think this can be called OT in the sense that the org change literature defines it. I do understand that the whole premise for org change is about intentional, planned change efforts and OT and OD are both aspects of this.

      Regarding the three or four key ideas that I’ve taken away so far from our readings and class, I actually posted those on my page on the wiki. This post kind was done before that one and while it does cover some of the points that I picked, is more of a reflective piece.

      It would be interesting to find a large group intervention in which I could participate. I will try to find something. Thanks for the feedback!


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