Building a Better World by Sharing OD Practices

Building a Better World by Sharing OD Practices


Building a Better World by Sharing OD Practices

We are currently working with a group in Africa that wants to bring about change within their community but has minimal resources at its disposal. We are providing the group leader guidance to help him bring about change in his community through OD.

My goal is to provide the leader with the lessons needed to practice OD and enable the leader to share those lessons with others to help create positive change. We have requested the group to share their results with IOD and they have agreed to do so. They have also agreed to give IOD permission to share the group’s progress with the rest of the world so that more people can benefit from their experiences.

Organization Development, provides a process for creating change using tools that help people work collaboratively to identify the needs, work together as a team with equal rights, establish goals, and set actions to meet the goals. Finally, the OD professional must align the goals with the culture and values of the system to create a method and structure to achieve those goals.

The process I shared with the group leader was as follows: the group leader would organize groups, identify needs, create action plans, and implement those actions. Given the fact that resources to implement actions were minimal, I suggested to the leader to focus himself on using group knowledge, imagination, and initiative to create a learning community.

This article, “How to Use OD Tools for Building Collaboration within Groups” highlights the guidelines I shared with the leader. Please click on the link above to learn more.

I suggested to the leader that there could be some basic themes that come out of the action planning and feedback sessions– things that are important to people in the group. In this case, they could be related to basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, preventing disease and infection, or higher level needs such as health, sanitation, education, mental health, and entertainment.

Even better things such as learning community could also emerge from this exercise. Using the collective knowledge and talents of the group (music, dance, art, crafts, sports, herbalists, handicrafts, mechanics, teachers, farmers, health experts, child care, and technical skills such as computers of the members of the community), a learning community could be created.

Classes with schedules could be set up and everyone would have a learning path. For this to work, attendance would need to be encouraged and tracked.

In this system, everyone would be an educator and everyone would be a learner. Those who were not literate could learn from those who could teach basic math, science, and reading, and writing. In this way, the group could start its own school, offer sports, learning, music, art, and dance.

Even if a group has no resources, it is possible to teach a skill such as computers by drawing a keyboard on a piece of paper and have students practice using the computer through imagination.

I asked the leader to share with others on how they achieved their goals and measured their success. They needed to keep track of their successes and failures and identify new ways of creating change.

I also encouraged the team leader to rely on the group’s intuitiveness to create the resources they needed. Could they make their own musical instruments, play sports without equipment, make their own equipment, create tools such as: an abacus to count, a protractor to draw circles, a triangle? Use nature (stars, weather, nature, and laws of physics) to teach science? Get people involved in inventing their own tools?

The leader worked with the group to identify the critical needs of their community.

Here are the steps the leader took in the meetings:

  • Prayer
  • Opening remarks
  • Introduction
  • Introducing them to the program
  • Getting their expectation, feelings, personal issues, and why they were there.
  • Getting their ideas and vision
  • Discussing several themes
  • Steps to reach the vision

I opened by a word of prayer and welcomed them warmly to the meeting and everybody introduced him/her self. There were 3 ladies and 7 men I inclusive.

To start with I had to introduce them to the OD change program and mention you as the one who is helping us in the OD program where by everybody was happy upon hearing that:

  1. However this are the questioned that they asked me
  2. How did I come across this program?
  3. What is my intention?
  4. Why did have to choose them yet there are so many people?
  5. How sure am I that this program will continue?

I did respond to their question and they were satisfied indeed and told them in nutshell that all depends on our commitment.

Their expectation and personal issues:

  • Gain skills
  • Help the community
  • Exposure to new things
  • Improve their lives in both social and economical
  • My commitment to be encouraging
  • Respect and if there be rules and regulation everybody should follow accordingly
  • Team work spirit

Their vision in summary was to see the community members fully empowered both social and economic. The themes that were evident there during the dialogue were:

  • Finding ways of improving the food and nutrition of people living with disabilities
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • Talent empowerment programs
  • Donor search
  • Encouraging people to wok
  • Advocating for justice in the community
  • Advocating against child abuse and gender balance awareness”


·         Prayer
·         Opening remarks 
·         Last meeting recap
·         Brain storming SMART criteria conclusion 
·         I opened by word of prayer and gave an opening remark to the members and giving the last meeting recap the we began brain storming on how our team is going to have sensible, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound ideas so as to realize change in the community 
·         We up with a name of the team “DEVELOPMENT BASE TEAM (D-BASE TEAM)” 
·         The members things we should work on then: introduce open discussion with the youths once a week introduce English class introduce soccer team for children human rights awareness campaign continue organizing talent shows looking for sponsors have an office.
·         The members agreed to me committed and deliver to their best by having the above implemented with immediate effect. “

My communication with the team leader after receiving the agenda:

“Once you set your goals for each of the areas – Prioritize and pick the projects that are doable and attainable, maybe rank them by short term -( low hanging fruit) can be accomplished quickly and long term – will take 3-7 months or more to accomplish. Brainstorm and create an action plan and gain agreement.  Next create a project plan, identify timelines, who’s responsible, and the status.

I’ll attach a tool for you to use.  You’ll want identify some stakeholders and subject matter experts to be involved.  You’ll need support and expertise from these folks and help in communicating and rolling out the plan.  You also want to involve others in collecting data to determine the root cause of the issues and what they recommend. Also, start to find people who are experts who can start to help with develop the programs for each of the areas.”


So we have begun an English class of about 52 people and next month we will
tackle another activity.

It looks to me that the group is on track to start accomplishing the targets it has set for itself. Through regular meetings, follow-ups and check-ins, I think they will be able to achieve group synergy and improve their conditions even more.

I wish them all the best!


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