Facilitating Healthy Organizations with OD: Patricia M. Damman’s Story

Patti's story

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Patti Dammann believes that by teaching OD principles, IOD can help organizations transform into healthy work environments where people are effective, feel like they are a part of a greater vision, and know they are contributing to the world. As the President of IOD, she believes that to reach the OD mindset, one must dig deep, understand why change is needed, and use the methodology that IOD’s programs teach to create meaningful impact not just for today, but for the future.

Starting with “Why”

When Patti began her professional journey in Organizational Development (OD), she was profoundly moved by the impact that she could facilitate and promote through other people. She realized she could make a difference in an organization by working with people who are going through changes, helping them get their arms around a new vision, and bringing people together to heal organizational problems.

Patti knew she enjoyed HR after a short stint working in the late 70’s as a “Personnel Assistant.”  During this time, she got her taste of being an employee advocate while still satisfying the needs of management. A short time later she was given the opportunity to attend Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School after her Sociology Professor (Professor Sweeney) at SUNY at Farmingdale persuaded her to apply and abandon her plans to study Accounting. This decision ultimately changed her life. Studying Organizational Behavior and the work of the early pioneers such as Kurt Lewin, Douglas McGregor, Abraham Maslow, David McClelland, just to name a few, completely transformed how she would approach organizational and employee issues for the rest of her career.

Patti worked in the 80’s and 90’s as an internal OD consultant, starting her career as an HR Business Partner. While she had major successes, there were some downfalls as well. She had been on the front lines of poorly-managed change initiatives and realized that the OD principles were the key to achieving sustainable change. One of such instances happened during the early nineties when the organization at which Patti worked wanted her to lead a brand new Diversity initiative. Despite Patti’s best efforts, multiple attempts at the programming were unsuccessful; Patti realized the problem was at a much deeper level. The organization was not ready to address the underlying issue of unspoken biases and change. As Patti explains, “they needed to take the deep dive before doing performative actions.” They were doing things for the wrong reasons, trying to appease and check a box; they were really missing the “why.” Organizations need to dig deep, look at policies and structures, and execute in alignment with the values. She asks, “What would the world look like if we treated each other with respect and were inclusive?”

As Patti moved into the OD external world to work on OD initiatives, she was able to take the lessons learned to build relationships with senior leaders and others to align the organization work and involve all the stakeholders and employees.

That is why she continues to teach at IOD, to help other professionals avoid false starts and use OD’s models and tools to get to the essence of what the organization wants to do, how they’re going to do it, and how it all supports the vision, culture, and values. OD is about finding out what is going on in the organization, getting deep into the root causes of issues, and collaborating between leaders, stakeholders, and employees. Every IOD program is built on the principle of starting by asking “why.”

IOD creates a global impact. The most fulfilling aspect of IOD’s worldwide reach is the powerful work done at a social level, specifically with the work IOD does in Africa. Patti absolutely thrives knowing she has made a difference by promoting a better standard of living for people. “At IOD, we can help people who go back to their communities and make a difference.”

Creating impact with IOD

Patti first started working with Nancy Zentis, IOD’s Founder and CEO, in 2013. She wanted to help build programming that equipped professionals to create an impact in their organizations. Patti leads IOD programming with top facilitators in the field that create continuous and sustainable learning. Participants learn tools and principles that they then can teach to others, eventually creating a world of people using OD within their organizations, work, and families.

In addition, IOD creates a global impact. The most fulfilling aspect of IOD’s worldwide reach is the powerful work done at a social level, specifically with the work IOD does in Africa. Patti absolutely thrives knowing she has made a difference by promoting a better standard of living for people. “At IOD, we can help people who go back to their communities and make a difference.”

Patti thinks everyone should do this work. She wants to teach leaders to change their mindset, use the skills of collaboration and deep listening, and model that behavior to create a ripple effect of impact and change. “I wish we could take IOD’s programming and work with the United Nations, imagine if we could use this collaborative approach and bring together people at all levels to help solve world problems.”

At IOD, we live the values we teach

Patti knows the significance of the work IOD does, and the new brand and website are a way to show the customers that the organization is ready to continue leading from the front. IOD wants to change the world with OD, and it is crucial to look inwards and recognize the need for transformation to meet the needs of this generation and the organizations of today.

The digital transformation IOD underwent allowed the organization to align systems, information sharing, communications patterns, and programs to be what the customers and the field of OD need today and in the future.

As part of the rebrand, the logo has a new infinity symbol, which is especially meaningful to Patti as she believes “the work of OD will go on forever.” Kurt Lewin’s pioneering work in the field set the stage for a paradigm shift within organizations, and the essence and goals of OD have not changed and are powered by more sophisticated tools and methods. With the new brand, IOD aims to solidify in the customers’ minds the company’s positioning as the leader in OD education with top accredited certifications in talent management, leadership development, HR business partner, and executive coaching.

If you’re interested in how OD certifications can help, click here to learn more.

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