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Recommended Reading – The Roles of Organisation Development

Role of OD

Garden, A. (2015) The Roles of Organisation Development. Gower Publishing

I have been practicing OD for over ten years, and in that time have never found an adequate way of describing exactly what it is that I do… until now.

Thanks to Annamaria Garden, The Roles of the OD practitioner are articulated in a way that makes sense,  that actually mean something and explains what we do.  I also absolutely love the way the end of each chapter provides the opportunity for you to self assess using questions and exercises, so you can build your own practitioner personal development plan.

The roles are:

Seer – It is the skill of seeing things; of seeing through appearances and looking into the future. Knows what to begin to prioritise or pay attention to.  They may know before other do, what needs to be focused on.

Translator – The hearing equivalent to seeing.  It is the skill of listening in order to translate one person to another.  Listens to the organisation’s speech, looking for the intentions and purpose behind the problems in the organisation.

Cultivator – A role of understanding the rhythm and pacing in the organisation.  Recognizing when to go slow, or when to operate at great speed.  Aims to heal people and the organisation, focusing on organisational wellness.

Catalyst – Hits the bullseye.  Good at combining different things or people to create something quite new and exciting.

Navigator – Charts people and the organisation through psychological space.  Knowing the direction, the current space as well as propelling people to get to the direction.

Teacher – Focuses on teaching well.

Guardian – Creates an ethical, not just effective organisation.  Being aware of oneself and having disciplines to encourage that.

Each chapter is joyous to read.  It’s like unveiling a mirror and understanding what an OD practitioner looks like for the first time.  Its also clearly written, practical as well as theoretical and… well just makes sense.

This is a truly excellent book, but a word of warning, it is also one of the most irritating books I have read as well.  I blame the burgeoning academic in me, which given that Garden has such as stella academic background perhaps is more a reflection on my failings than her.  If you don’t mind her name dropping the OD greats every other sentence, this book will probably not be irritating in the slightest, but I found myself mentally thinking “lets just pick that up from the floor” for every name she dropped… which is often.  To my British sensibilities its all a bit boastful.  Furthermore there is something rather smug (and academically wrong) about the way she calls Shutz, “Will”, Schein, “Ed” and Beckhard “Dick” – yes we get it, you were mentored and taught by the greats, you don’t have to remind us every five seconds.

But despite my personal irritation this is still an excellent book and one I would highly recommend you get for your bookshelf.  Get it here.

 


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