What is the Value of an Internal OD Consultant?


In one of my recent OD classes, participants shared their roles as internal OD Consultants. When they presented their case studies, I was reminded how important it is to be invited into a change project. This is something leaders don’t usually think about until they run into problems.  The internal OD Consultant provides an OD change process. They plan and facilitate each step in the change process.  Here are the ways internal OD Consultants structure the planning process:

  • Contract for roles and responsibilities
  • Create a project charter
  • Define the business case
  • Create the communication strategy
  • Select stakeholders
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Create an action and implementation plan
  • Develop a maintenance plan
  • Provide training
  • Measuring outcomes

One of the most important roles of the internal OD Consultant is the role of a Challenger.  A Challenger’s role is to be a disrupter of the status quo. This focuses people on improvement and growth. Internal OD Consultants ask the “hard questions” to get the client to identify what gaps stand in the way of the desired future. The Challenger doesn’t know exactly how the vision will unfold but knows when there is a lack of alignment with the desired outcome. Challengers can see the bigger picture and encourage clients to look at problems with alternative perspectives. As the Challenger, the internal OD Consultant listens and observes, and offers feedback when needed, being careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings.  The Challenger shares what is observed and asks questions to encourage the client to identify new perspectives.

Part of  the internal OD Consultant role is being a learning coach when working with the Senior Leader Team. It’s important to transfer learning to help them learn new skills and behaviors.  When appropriate, offer a tool or process that might be helpful.  Top OD Tools include: 

  • Facilitation tools
  • Problem solving and decision-making tools
  • Project management tools
  • Analysis tools
  • Coaching and feedback
  • Debriefing tools

Internal OD Consultants ask the group to identify their learning goals – individual, team, leadership, business, and organization culture.  

Internal OD Consultants support a variety of organization change projects. Here are six common OD change projects.

  1. Organization restructuring
  2. New product development
  3. Transformational change across the organization
  4. Critical business challenges such as turn-over, attrition, employee engagement, attracting critical talent, mergers, and acquisitions
  5. Culture integration 
  6. Organization structure redesign

Internal OD Consultants may face challenges when asked to join OD initiatives or projects.  Here are some of the challenges I’ve experienced:

  1. Not asked to initially be part of the start-up team
  2. Participating as a team member not as a consultant
  3. Taking over as internal consultant on a current project
  4. Poor contracting

Want your OD project to be successful? Here are the top keys to success in every OD project:

  • Identify the right people that need to be involved
  • Have a clear understanding of the project scope
  • Define the level of responsibility
  • Determine the time allocation
  • Identify the goals and deliverables
  • Take steps to handle conflict
  • Deal with difficult people
  • Recontract when contract agreements have changed

Learning how to overcome challenges involves having the confidence and ability to initiate a conversation about your concerns. One of the most important ways to improve your role as an internal OD Consultant is to debrief after each client engagement and ask yourself, “What did I do that was successful?” and “What could I do differently next time?”  This is helpful for self-development and self-improvement.

Here are my top lessons learned as an internal OD consultant:

  • Be mindful of the client
  • Listen and identify their needs, not yours
  • Be neutral, don’t offer your suggestions
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Ask more than tell
  • Continue to build the relationship

For more information about OD Consulting and OD Certification, please contact us at  info@instituteod.com, or visiting our website at:  www.instituteod.com


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