Thorough Overview of IOD’s 7th Annual OD Conference
Written by Michelle Lake, IOD Intern
It was an exciting first day at The 7th Annual OD Conference! The day started with the attendees doing an engaging, interactive activity with Dr. Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu based on his Synergy Model. His activity made us understand the power of influence on creating organizational change, and how important it is to understand other perspectives when implementing organizational change. Afterwards, we had our first keynote session with Judy Vogel and David Glaser. They discussed the importance of organizational consultants (both internal and external) practicing self-care and how to use this in an organizational environment. Different self-care strategies such as Mindfulness and positive deviance were discussed, which made their keynote session very insightful. Afterwards, Ragland Thomas provided us with a scenario whereby he discussed how to use the STEP model. Then Patti Dammann and Susan Gervasi discussed the Open Space Method. They had us work in groups to answer the question, “How can we use OD to change the world, your community, or your organization?”. Lastly, we did the Birds of a Feather activity with Dr. Nancy Zentis. This activity made all of the attendees realize how much we have in common with one another. Then we worked in groups to develop a technique to use from one of the things we shared in common.
It was another amazing day at the annual OD Conference. The day started out with a fun Mindfulness and Energy activity by Aimee Bernstein. Aimee discussed the importance of using positive energy in order to reduce stress and to empower ourselves. Afterwards, we had the pleasure of hearing Michael Sabbag’s presentation on the use of measurement in OD. He discussed concepts such as ROI, Quantitative and Qualitative methods, and validity and reliability. Then we did a 30-minute tool time with Ragland Thomas about strengths and shadows in organizations. This was followed by an exciting team building activity, which was presented by Marva Greig, Peteula Gayle, and Ilsa duVerney. They divided the attendees into groups, which contained leaders, followers, and observers. The leaders were directed to provide the followers with instructions of how to navigate through an obstacle course, while the followers were blind followed. The observers took note of the dynamics between the followers and leaders. Once this was completed, all of the groups reunited in order to process what had occurred. Then the attendees participated in two Cracker Barrel sessions directed by multiple speakers. Lastly, Dr. Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu, and Dr. Yacoubou closed the ceremony with an activity whereby attendees answered two questions that required them to think of one word each to describe what they enjoyed most and what they would improve.
On the final day of IOD’s 7th Annual OD Conference, the attendees began with a reflection activity whereby Dr. Nancy Zentis asked them to reflect on something they are currently experiencing in their lives. We then had a discussion and everyone shared their reflections. The attendees consistently discussed how much they had been enjoying the conference, and what was the most rewarding aspect of the conference. Jubal Rafferty mentioned that he really appreciated the diversity of the conference. He stated that the majority of the conferences he goes to lack diversity, and so it was a rich experience for him to interact with people from different countries during this OD Conference. Ian Williams spoke about how attending the OD conference had revitalized him, and he is prepared to go back to his job in Jamaica and apply what he has learned. Ilsa remarked how seeing the younger generation of attendees pursuing an interest in the OD field has confirmed that she made the right decision to start working in OD over 30 years ago, and has motivated her to continue working in the field. Stella Mesa shared that she felt so much love, gratitude, and appreciation for everyone she had met while attending the conference.
Once we completed the reflection activity, we moved on to an activity called The Orange Scenario with Dr. Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu. We discussed the importance of people in organizations using negotiation skills in order to achieve a shared vision. After this activity, the attendees participated in a presentation by Ilsa duVerney and Marva Greig called “Future Search” whereby participants had to write about changes in OD over the past two decades from three different perspectives, which were “You”, “Community” and “The World”. Afterwards, attendees heard a presentation from Dr. Katya Matusevich called “Brain-Friendly OD: Is Neuroscience a Game Changer for OD?”, which was a truly fascinating presentation. Then the attendees participated in a “Future of OD Activity” by Ragland Thomas. Attendees then participated in a Creating Memories Activity with Dr. Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu, Patti Dammann, and Susan Gervasi. Finally, each of the attendees was awarded a certificate of participation in the OD Conference and took pictures. Overall, it was a wonderful and inspiring experience attending The 7th Annual OD Conference. The attendees were able to network and establish valuable relationships with one another as well as obtain a wealth of knowledge that we will apply to our organizations. We enjoyed all of the presentations by The IOD staff, and will never forget this amazing experience.