We like to deride ego. However, we all have one in whatever shape of strength or fragility. Our goal as facilitators is to use our egos for our goals rather than whatever goals our egos might have.
I certainly have an ego-derived need to look like I know what I’m doing. And there are times in working with a group that I have no idea what is going on or what I might do about it. Unfortunately, to sit back looking wise while things escalate out of control has not proven to be useful. Nor have my attempts at changing the topic been any more useful. What has been useful is showing-off by acknowledging that I haven’t a clue about what’s happening and asking for those clues. I’ve yet to find a group that wouldn’t help me. In that process, I demonstrate humility (an admirable trait) by acknowledging that I don’t know and gain critical information for myself and for the group that leads me to knowing what to do! Ah, my mighty ego not only survives but wins another round!
I can use my ego successfully as long as I am not automatically identifying with the automatic responses of my ego. If I am operating as if I am my ego, then I am doomed to operate as my ego dictates. Likewise, I would be doomed to do what my anger wants me to do (fight) or my fear wants me to do (flight) or my guilt wants me to do (punish myself) as long as I identify myself as my emotions, such as, “I am angry,” “I am afraid,” or “I am guilty.” Have your ego, don’t be it. Use it to get your job done or put it slightly aside to deal with later when it can no longer derail your facilitation.
Whether we are talking about intention, connectivity, or ego-management, consciously choose what you believe since that directs your thoughts which direct your emotions which direct your actions. You can consciously be in charge of all four if you choose (and have the support) to do so!
In previous installments of this series, we gave an elegantly simple definition of organization development and looked at its three components: (1) what practitioners do, (2) the results they are after, and (3) how it works. What’s so hard about that?
The Hard Part: The Practice of Organization Development
If organization development is so great and so potent, why hasn’t it become the de facto technology of choice for managing change in organizations? Its concepts aren’t difficult to grasp. The stages of planned change and levels of human systems that make up a considerable part of the typical OD canon are conceptually accessible. However, it is often difficult to practice since the very nature of culture—societal or organizational—is to lead, motivate, train, influence, bend, dupe or otherwise brainwash its members into “acceptable” patterns of belief, thought, emotion, and behavior. In other words, to not change anything! Because of this, the OD practitioner more often than not finds himself swimming uphill, negotiating rapids and whirlpools often created and maintained by the client that brought us in.
Another reason that OD can be difficult to practice is that academia is where many folks go to become OD practitioners. Unfortunately, OD is a skill-based field rather than an academic field. There are any number of colleges and universities offering courses and degrees in organization development under various titles—organization and industrial psychology, organization behavior, etc. And, they do a fine job of providing their students with a sound and deep knowledge of human, group, and organizational dynamics and behavior as well understanding of strategies and tactics of managing change. Still, a degree, even an advanced degree, does not alone make a successful OD practitioner who needs a set of skills that will enable him/her to navigate the seemingly permanent white water that is heading in the other direction.
What, then, does make for a skilled practitioner beyond the requisite knowledge base? A skilled OD practitioner is…
√ An independent thinker who doesn’t collude with resistance
√ Willing and able to swim upstream against the desires and dictates of organizational culture
√ Personally secure enough to not feel threatened by authority figures and other perceived sources of intimidation
√ More interested in being rather than doing
√ Someone who believes that being effective is more important than being right
√ Someone who connects easily with others
√ Comfortable with emotions—his own and those of others
√ Comfortable with ambiguity
√ Able to stay focused and can help others (including groups of others) to focus
√ Self aware and able to effectively manage her own foibles
√ A devotee of curiosity and learning
This might seem an intimidating list. Yet, with intentional and deliberate practice along with focused and consistent support, we can surprise ourselves with how often we can maintain such a level of consciousness at least when the stakes are important to us. Unfortunately, none of these characteristics of a fully conscious person are amenable to academic education. Knowledge of them does not give skill in them. The skill of these characteristics can be learned, however. Mentoring, coaching, apprenticing, skill-oriented workshops, meditation, and psychotherapy are all useful. In fact, the combination of them all does very well!
Accordingly, we have added eight disciplines of consciousness as a third aspect of the OD canon to make a three-dimensional Meta-Model of Planned Change. These eight disciplines are Conscious Use of Self, Systemic Thinking, Support Systems, Sound and Current data, Feedback, Infinite Power, Learning from Differences, and Empowerment. They are crucial to activating the practitioner’s personal power on behalf of activating the personal power of clients on behalf of activating the power inherent in organizations. With such a triple impact, organization development practitioners can transform the human processes that are the life-blood of human systems toward both increased productivity and increased human satisfaction.
Next time we will take a look at the three-dimensional Meta-Model of Planned Change and begin an in-depth look at the disciplines of planned change.
Everything we do is an intervention in that everything we do or don’t do has an impact within the system of which we are a part.
- The overarching intention of an intervention should be to increase the support system for the goal toward critical mass.
- To establish the type of relaxed, person-to-person dialogue that is at the heart of effective collaboration and mutually useful communication within human systems.
- An intervention will generate useful information about the system regardless of its outcome.
- The intervention should be between the supporters of the goal and the goal
- The intervention should increase the quality of connection among the supporters themselves. The stronger, more open and supportive relationships within the target system, the higher the quality of connection will be. Support toward genuine curiosity, interest, and appreciation while allaying judgment works.
- Shifting conflict and conformity to learning from differences is important.
Whatever you do to increase the connectivity toward the change goal.
The effect of the intervention in terms of movement toward the change goal
Discussion to determine how well the intervention created the desired impact in contrast to the actual impact so that the next intervention might be more effective if necessary.
- Check to see that the intervention is based on the needs of the system as well as your own issues regarding your sense of identity, self-esteem, or self-importance.
- Support your client to identify their ego needs and how to get them met in ways that support their change goals
- Ego issues tend to be a distraction from the intention of the change goal and to interfere with the building of the relationships needed to reach critical mass.