Never A Prophet In Your Own Land

I am fortunate to have several friends in elevated positions in their respective organizations. Some of them have continued to elevate their positions as long as I’ve known them. Especially Ann. She has more credentials than I could ever hope to aspire to. She was been VP-Organizational Development in more than one Fortune 500 company. And she’s my friend. I know, you're asking, "So what?"

A group of us were talking about dysfunction that occur within organizations. :-) When a group of OD types gather on a regular basis, there is always plenty in this arena to be discussed, and not a little of it to be ridiculed too. On one recent occasion she uttered these words,“You’ll never be a prophet in your own land”. It struck me and I've been considering this condition ever since.

In my dad's words, I am a "muller". So I've pondered the implications of this concept more than a little bit. I keep coming back to how sad is this? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that organizations benefit at greater levels with people in place who know the business and its people.  It takes time to embed culture, business strategy, products, customers—all of it.

Where does this misplaced and misguided concept come from? (read = mindset; mode of thought) I have to go with the “one bad apple” theory, meaning one person or small group of people fostering it. What the heck, I'll take the risk of going further out on this proverbial limb by stating a person, or small group of people, with narrow views of how things are supposed to be. In their world view, how "we’ve always done it" is above innovation and interest in seeking creative solutions. A pervasive, “My way or the highway” undercurrent exists and shapes project outcomes. I shudder to think that this concept exists in departments with “Organizational Development, or Training” in the title. Really. I actually shudder. Where is the “development” part of the “organization” in here?

I’m reminded of a time when the on-site human resources director in an organization where I worked happened to  mention that her new policies would reduce “foot traffic” in her department. What is that? Pretty sure the word “human” was in her job title and job description. (can’t make these things up!) But I digress...

Fair blog post readers, we're here for the purpose of keeping up with trends, helping to make changes in the organization bearable for those who aren't so reslient, bring fresh ideas and ways of doing "old" things--and a lot more! It is incumbent on each and every one of us to figure out ways of doing this. Please don't get stuck in ruts or succumb to pressure and choose to take the path of less resistance. (I shudder again!) I am still out on this limb, so I will creep out a little further and say that if staying this way is OK with you, please seek another form of employment. (I know, I'm scary!)   

While I write this, I'm thinking what sort of advice can I give to people reading this posting?  Here goes:

  • Crawl out of the corner you've painted yourself into and look at all of the innovation around you. Web sites, magazines, greeting cards, fashion trends, games, K12 edcuation--there are millions of them!
  • Read all you can get your hands on. Read until your eyes are tired, then read some more. Design and change management books and web sites are a great place to start.
  • Participate in social media events that embrace getting better at this work. (think Tweet Chats, Yammer groups and G+ hangouts)
  • Join ASTD, both local and national. Both because they exist for different reasons and will provide you with a broader perspective on this work we do. If you have a local SHRM or ODN chapter, they're great resources too.   

And finally, I confess that I'm not always successful in getting people to like my ideas. But I'm going to keep trying.

My resolve

  • I will be pleased when SME's to agree to text boxes with color in them and round corners on them.
  • I will be ecstatic when other departments consider including us earlier in their discussions on updates or new ways of doing something.
  • I will leap for joy when they listen and incorporate the plans we've made.

 What do you think? Can we together squash this thinking in our organizations? And more importantly, in our HR, OD, and Training departments? I say a resounding YES!