The Exciting World of OD Process Consultants
By Susan Gervasi, IOD Facilitator
Today’s business world has changed considerably from where it was prior to the new millennium. We are all feeling the challenges of shifting demographics in the workplace, rapidly changing technologies, increased global footprints of organizations, and uncertain economies. Leaders need new skill sets to help meet the demands of the organization. Old structures need revisions and fresh directions. Employees want more personal development, feedback and career opportunities. Organizations are being squeezed from all ends. These challenges can be overwhelming but, at the same time, they offer all of us new opportunities to grow and flourish. Despite the pressure and challenges of this brave new world, OD professionals have moved into exciting new positions in the organization, in order to help businesses succeed. Our roles as OD professionals have taken on the character of business partners and process consultants.
These truly are exciting times! Organizations need our help to develop effective interventions for change and solve critical business challenges using a scientific approach. As OD Process Consultants, we have risen from our previous perception as Human Resource form pushers – to experts who focus on the organization as a system. Our concerns have grown to include:
- The health of the organization
- The organization’s capacity to solve problems
- The organization’s ability to adapt, change, and self-renew
- The organization’s ability to create a high quality of life for its employees
Process Consultants work and collaborate with their clients – not for them. We take on the task of creating and sustaining a helping relationship. The nature of the relationship is symbiotic. In other words, the days of the client throwing the initiative over the fence to us and expecting outstanding results are gone. This equal partnership with the client permits us both to perceive, understand, and act on process events that occur internally and externally. Our clients benefit from our help by being able to develop healthy, high performance, self-renewing organizations that can successfully manage change at all levels. We provide models for implementing change. Our business partners own the problem. As Process Consultants, we are the guides, observers, interveners, and influencers that help organizations achieve their vision, mission, and goals. This is viewed as a superior style of consulting rather than experts or doctor-patient relationships. The real opportunity is to gain our partners trust and commitment, to help them fix problems so that they stay fixed.
Many of us OD Process Consultants have fallen into these new roles and are feeling a bit intimidated and unsure as to how we should proceed. We scramble to surf the internet, read books and blogs, view “how to” videos, research work of OD pioneers and join professional networks. Certification programs can be very useful as well. The bottom line is, we need to follow a defined process to help our clients. Again, structure, process, and metrics propel us in a favorable light with our clients. I have come to realize that using a model produces best results and a stronger commitment from our business partners to implement change.
Process Consultants need to consider the following steps when working with their clients:
- Perform entry discussions and establish contracts: It is critical for us to get the “big picture” of the need and reason our clients have turned to us for help. Once we have a clear picture on what is needed, we can then create a contract to define expectations for both parties. Roles and responsibilities as well as a Statement of Work are important. This lays the foundation of our shared vision for the work that needs to get done.
- Conduct discovery and dialogues: We need to dig deep and get into the bowels of the organization so that we can get to the heart of the issue. It is not enough to take the word of the client regarding the problems and issues. Through discovery and dialogues, as OD Process Consultants, we connect with people at all levels in the organization, ask questions, listen, and analyze information. This enables us to stand back and understand what the organization is doing right, wrong, and where the gaps are in moving towards the future.
- Provide feedback and encourage decisions to set priorities: As we continue to forge ahead with our business partnerships, we must take the information we have collected and analyzed, and share it with our clients. The clients need to absorb the data, make decisions, and set the priorities on what actions should be taken to move forward. It is not the place of the OD Process Professional to tell the organization what to do and how to prioritize. In allowing the client to make the decisions on how to act, they gain ownership and commitment for actions and implementation. This will ensure success.
- Promote engagement and implementation: OD Process Consultants lead their partners to create action plans and strategies that address the problems and promote change across organizations. We have many tools to help our clients get actively involved in setting goals and project planning. We can use tools like SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis and Force Field Analysis. Implementation is promoted through solid communication and training activities that we can lead. In addition, we will work with our clients to establish measurements to determine the success of our efforts.
- Extend, recycle and terminate our initiative: As OD Process Consultants we know we can make a difference. However, there comes a time when we have completed our tasks and are ready to return the keys of the kingdom back to our business partners. This enables them to fully own the operations and take full accountability for results. For us, it allows us to close out the initiative and move on to another one. In doing this, we will continue to work with our clients and help them make a difference in another aspect of their business.
As we reflect on our role today, as OD Process Consultants, we can see our migration from traditional OD roles as classic consultants, experts, and pairs of hands to change leaders, trusted advisors, and process and performance improvement guides. How exciting! We have opportunities to become organizational architects who use scientific theories and methods to assist our clients to improve profitability, productivity, morale, and the quality of work life.
It is a scary new role for us. To aid us on this journey, the Institute of Organization Development has an exhilarating certificate program in OD Process Consulting. The OD Process Consulting program (ODPC) is comprised of eight, 3-hour sessions that will guide you through the how to’s of becoming an OD Process Consultant. This program combines tools, theories, techniques, best practices, and applications to provide insights on how you can apply these new skills in your world. The topics include:
- Introduction to OD Processes
- Communication and Influence Skills
- Coaching and Facilitation Skills
- OD Process Consulting Model
- Process Consulting in Action
- Planning for Change
- Implementing Change
- Transferring Learning and Evaluating Results
The program is delivered 100% online. All you need is a headset and a computer to participate. You can take the program from anywhere! Networking is encouraged and students participate from numerous time zones and countries around the world.
If you are considering moving into this field, don’t hesitate any longer! Many students new to OD Process Consulting have left the ODPC program feeling a strong sense of confidence in their abilities to successfully establish business partnerships and serve as guides to their clients in promoting growth and change. You can do it! The journey is a rewarding, fun, and challenging one. Why not take the plunge? I did and I have never looked back!