#Blogtober: A Journey from A to OD - Why OD is the Place for Me

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01 / 10 / 2014 12.01am

By Cat Carpenter

#Blogtober Day: Wednesday 1 October

Ever since the age of 14 I’ve had a job of some kind.  I’ve had part-time jobs throughout college and university and full-time jobs since then.  I’m proud (and lucky) to say that I’ve never been out of work.  But at the same time I spent much of that time wishing I was doing something else but never knowing what it was supposed to be.  I’d try a job and think: “nope, this isn’t the one”, and when I’d had enough of the politics or boredom I’d move on and try another.

Part of me loves to learn new things, so moving jobs isn’t an ordeal for me, I enjoy it.  But on the flip side, when you can say that you’ve had more jobs than birthdays (since the age of 14) that does sound like quite a lot!

But then as part of the most recent NHS restructures I was given the opportunity for yet another new job and I thought that OD looked like an interesting team to be part of.  Someone in my previous organisation had even said to me once that they thought OD might be something that would interest me.  Turns out they were right!

I’ve spent 18 months working in OD now and I’m glad to say that I’ve finally found a career rather than just another job.  At times over the past year I’ve thought “why couldn’t I have found my way here sooner?” but I’ve realised that it’s those past experiences, jobs and years that have made me the person I am and means I’m ready for OD.

When I look back over some of my jobs I can see what skills I’ve picked up along the way that form part of my role in OD.  For example I spent 21 months working at a company selling spare parts for forklift trucks and built up skills in buying, sales, negotiation and customer service.  You can’t say they aren’t needed in OD?! I worked for a Debt Counselling Agency which helped me to understand other people’s circumstances and how to structure budgets.  I’ve learned process improvement and knowledge of IT infrastructure at an IT support service to the Police and I’ve learned Project and Change Management processes and techniques when I helped to set up a new NHS organisation.

All of this knowledge and experience helps me to do my job today and if I’d got to OD earlier, I really don’t think I’d be properly equipped to deal with it!

Why I love OD

So all this aside, what is it that makes me love OD so much? 

I like variety.  I like that every project is something new with new challenges and new ideas.  I can be creative and logical at the same time and there’s always something new to learn along the way. 

I like that the different projects make use of my wide range of skills but at the same time they challenge me to use new ones and to develop myself.

I like that I get to interact with so many different people across the organisation at all levels.  I’ve been known to say in previous jobs that “I’m not a people person” but I now realise that this was more a reflection on how the job was affecting me than this being true.  I’m now really enjoying getting out and talking to people in our organisation, listening to their ideas, answering their questions and facilitating workshops.

I like that as a fairly young organisation there is lots to do and plenty of things I can contribute to.

I like that OD is working across the whole organisation, impacting on everyone; sometimes without them realising it, other times we are jumping up and down in their faces!

Don’t get me wrong; OD can be hard.  I’ll never forget Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge saying that anyone who is a Myers Briggs J (Judging) will find OD hard because nothing is ever finished and that some days she has to go home and darn all the socks in her house so she can see something through to completion!  I guess as long as I can recognise this potential problem I can deal with it using my own completion coping strategies.  Or maybe sometimes things really do get finished (or at least handed over!)

The positives of working in OD certainly outweigh any negatives and the more we make happen as a result of it, the easier the doors in the organisation seem to open with smiling faces on the other side.  To me, that’s making a difference and that’s what I need to achieve.

OD is the place for me.

Cat Carpenter is the Internal OD Lead at Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit and can be contacted via Twitter @Cat_Carpenter_, email address or via Linked In.

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