#Blogtober: Tom - A letter to my younger self

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10 / 10 / 2014 12.01am

By Tom Power

#Blogtober Day: Friday 10 October

Dear Tom,

So, you’re leaving management and heading to OD eh? Well, you’ll certainly get to exercise both sides of your brain! And you’ll have the privilege of working with others as diverse as the CEO one day and a team of Theatre Assistants the next in a way hierarchy often doesn’t allow. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that might be helpful as you dive in.

Firstly, make sure you can explain what OD is / what you are here to do without using jargon and abstract models. Your passion alone won’t count for much if people can’t understand it. ‘Helping our organisation to remain effective during change by supporting the development of people and processes’ is enough.

Do try to remember where you’re coming to OD from. As a lot of your work will involve engaging busy colleagues in delivering change (something that they don’t always see as their day job). So, it’s worth recalling what it was like when you were delivering similar services. Help them to link what the organisation is trying to achieve, the support you can offer and the service they provide.

Also, it’s a cliché, but patience is a virtue worth remembering, even when the heat is on. If you do your diagnostic work right, the robustness of what you help to develop will make the time it took to get there seem small by comparison. Get good data and engage people in understanding and applying it, involving them in identifying the real issues and developing viable solutions.

And finally, don’t be afraid to adapt things as you go. Letting things emerge and not drawing conclusions early is a good way of ensuring that often very bright and committed colleagues don’t think you have a pre-determined answer or are trying to fix them. This, and flexibility can be the difference between a really effective intervention and one that leaves people feeling short-changed.

All of the above will hopefully help you build on the valuable insights management has provided. There is much more that you’ll learn in the wonderful world of OD, but discovering it is half of the reward, so I won’t spoil the surprise by writing any more.

Good luck, and remember: enjoy yourself!


Tom Power is Head of Organisational Development & Learning at NHS Education for Scotland, a Special Health Board responsible for the education and training of over 160,000 staff in NHS Scotland. Tom can be contacted on Twitter @tomrpower or via email address.   

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