Healthy Leaders



Learning About Organizational Development and Change

Healthy Leaders

Learning About Organizational Development and Change

Doreen Kwarimpa-AtimDoreen Kwarimpa-Atim

We are all constantly grappling with managing change to be effective and fulfilled in what we do. At times change seems almost impossible. It is so tempting to give up. But, when the process is well-managed, there are inspiring examples of transformative change taking place. Change is so complex and depends on timing, who is involved, how the process is designed and how the spiritual aspect is integrated (at least with Christian institutions). The Space for Grace Learning Centre has over 20 articles that provide useful tips on understanding OD change processes and how to manage or support such processes. I pick here my favorite six:

1) “10 ingredients of OD by Rick James  This article gives a snapshot and yet exhaustive overview of what most OD processes entail, and what would be the desired/ideal outcome from an OD intervention. The ten outlined points give a summary of the key aspects to consistently work, whether they are beginners or “gurus” in the OD field. The article also draws attention to what makes OD stand out from other change efforts, and the various internal organizational aspects that a successful OD process needs to address, particularly the organizational culture. It is a quick reference for supporting any OD process.

2) “Whose Process is it Anyway? by Lena Boberg  Do you fund OD? Or lead change? Or consult as an OD practitioner? Are you grappling with how best to play your role and make it a fulfilling meaningful process for all those involved ‒ particularly those the process is meant for? This article helps to surface the complexities involved; it describes both conscious and unconscious processes among the various stakeholders and how they could influence the intervention. This article opens your eyes to inherent power dynamics. Apart from highlighting the issues, Lena also suggests how to work through the complexities so that in the end all parties enable ownership of the change process by the partner organization.

3) OD works with processes and tools to facilitate meaningful and client-owned change. But no matter how well one may have mastered the tools, the effectiveness of using them largely depends on how one works with the self as a tool. In his article; You as the Ultimate Tool, Rick James offers an OD practitioner tips on how they can consistently bring the best of themselves into their work. It reveals the benefits of working on yourself – particularly how this can build trust with the client. Rick outlines three key ways for an OD facilitator to continuously sharpen the self. For me they are “tips for any OD practitioner to live by.”

4) Humility is a core virtue for leading and facilitating change according to Humility in Leadership,” also by Rick James. The article eloquently describes how pride is one of the greatest temptations and causes of downfall for leaders. It also illustrates the importance of humility being at the core of influencing change. We need the humility to be open to our own change if we are to try to change others or organizations we work in. It contains a good mix of reference to scholars and Biblical references. What I find most attractive about this article is the way it characterizes humility and its manifestation in our day-to-day life, and how we can protect and nurture it. I know that because I am human, I am not immune to pride. I would do well to keep this paper with me all the time, particularly after a successful intervention or as part of my tools for self-reflection.

5) As an OD practitioner who is actively involved in supporting change processes in churches and Christian organizations, I have sometimes struggled with how to effectively use Bible study to inspire change. If I choose to, how much? In his article “Reflective Bible Studies ‒ an Underused Power-Tool in OD,” Bill Crooks humorously and yet frankly shares his experiences of how he struggled with similar questions and how he had a change of heart on how Bible studies can be used in OD to change processes. He came from thinking that they take too much time to realizing that they are at the core of triggering change if used in such a way that the owners of the change process are supported to use them in a reflective way. I find his outline of the four cycles of learning to facilitate reflective Bible study, the suggested methodology to use, as well as some of the scriptures he refers to, a great resource in supporting similar change processes.

6) Spiritual Leadership Bringing Inside-Out Change is a wonderful story of how a Christian NGO that had fallen to pieces started on a great healing path. It is about leadership yielding to the guidance of the Spirit of God. It is a story of humility and courage on the part of leadership and the organization itself.  I am inspired by reading about the power of God’s hand in causing change. It reminds me that no matter how dire a situation may be, there is hope for change when God is in it.