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It is time to redefine how we look at and create change in organisations

What is SF Organisation Development and Design and how is it different than the traditional OD approaches?

How is this approach supporting company evolution instead of big transformations, in the times when continuous and fast adaptation is needed?

How can short interventions create long lasting impact?

When we are talking about change in organisations, why are we still only talking about top-down initiated change, that will create resistance and a long time to implement it and change manage it? Consulting in the traditional way meant we (diagnose and) plan everything upfront, then plan the implementation and then we transform into it- all in a waterfall way. How can anybody believe you can become agile and adaptive this way?

How else can a company change?

We have been using for a while now a new definition for Organisation Development and Design that fits more to the current environment, and the way organisations operate these days. Organisations are not static: they are evolving and changing every day. Therefore, Organisation Design is not an occasional act or project, but rather it is a sum of valid agreements about what is the work that needs to be done now and how we are going to make that happen. When we make new agreements, we are developing the organisation- so that is Organisation Development.

Traditional OD processes always start with some sort of As-Is assessment or diagnosis to figure out what is not working and why - so we can start fixing it. With that you stay in the same paradigm that created the problem, not to mention the discounting effect of it on the organisation’s ability to understand and even develop itself.

With Solution Focused ODD we do not do that. To have a shared picture created how it would look like in the far and near future when it is working well gives us a lot more clues about what are we working towards to and the understanding what is not working now is not needed.

The same effort we invest into the diagnosis we can invest into investigating the next level when it works. It is not just a lot faster and a lot more energising, but in the 20 years of my experiences never once did the participants create a vision where there were any conflicts in this preferred future. It is a lot better of course to design with the involvement of the system, rather than having the CEO and the consultant designing together, so you can tap into the intelligence of the organisation.

Furthermore, with Solution focused ODD approach we are not there to solve the problems of companies, but by re-framing the situations focusing more on the future, where this problem might not even exist, we create a common direction for the efforts of the members of the organisation. Having its focus not on filling in the gaps, but on what is already there we create a confidence in the members and the organisation, that it is achievable, and they have everything they need to achieve it. How do we do that? By starting with the end: where the ‘end’ is a description of the next level in our evolution as a company.

Then we look back into the system to find out what is already there from this next level. What is it that we have already did, maybe only occasionally, accidently, things flying under the radar and how did we do that? These are the forerunners of this preferred future.

‘Oh, we are capable of doing this, because we have already done something like that!’- is what we often hear, and we call it the notion of positive deviance.

Still many people think OD looks like this: the external consultants arrive, and they take 3 to 6 months to diagnose and come up with the solution (the new organisation design), and then it takes another 1 to 1,5 years to implement is. Who has this much time now days?

With the evolutionary approach we are moving in smaller steps, but moving, and not waiting for the right plan, and moving with energy, with fun: and it is happening. We are not forcing something on to the system, but more likely we are creating it together- in smaller iterations allowing us to experiment, learn and adjust continuously.

In SF ODD we work with the assumption that the system has every knowledge it needs to move itself to the next level, so we are more likely to create more participatory processes tapping into the system’s knowledge and intelligence. With this approach there is no need for change management.

This is how change in organisations with a solution focused OD approaches work a lot faster and effortlessly compared to top-down plans. Less is more!

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