#Blogtober: I Do Vs. Do OD

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13 / 10 / 2014 12.01am

By Rebecca Watts

#Blogtober Day: Monday 13 October

Growing up, I dreamed of my special day; marrying my Prince Charming in a picturesque castle with everyone ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the beautiful bride. The happiest day of my life, and a whole day about me.

When I started to plan my Phantom of the Opera themed wedding two years ago I learnt that my Disney-style dreams were misguided. I am sure the past and present brides among us realise very early on that the day is not about the bride, or even the happy couple. When I thought about it, I realised there were a surprising number of parallels between OD principles and the world of white weddings:

  • Co-creation is key
    I had never planned a wedding before; I didn’t know whether I wanted a sweetheart neckline with cathedral veil or that a cake would cost £400. To design the perfect day, I needed to call on the subject experts for their educated views and advice, and then test them out. The wedding boutique knew all the dress styles available, but only my mother knew what would work for me. Whilst we should never devalue the OD theories or subject experts we have available when designing an OD initiative, we should always ensure that we pilot our ideas with people ‘on the ground’ – only they will know the culture and context pivotal to success.
  • Be aware of existing relationships – but don’t be governed by them
    So Auntie Jane can’t sit next to Nanna Ethel because she ran over her goldfish thirty years ago. Any bride will tell you that seating plans were the bane of their lives. It is also no secret that a workplace has complicated relationships governed by historical experience and current priorities, but in when designing and implementing successful OD initiatives you will need input from both Jenny from data and Mick from HR as to why they don’t work together as effectively as they can and then collaboratively determining how this can be improved. Ensuring they sit at different desks is not enough, but interestingly at a wedding this will suffice!
  • Plans, structures and timescales are needed but should not be inflexible
    Certain stakeholders in the organisation’s development will need a plan with the details, a framework for delivery and timescales for completion to assure them that the initiatives you are drawing up are aligned to the business objectives and the detail has been though through. The venue and photographer will need detail, whereas the bridesmaids (and staff) won’t. Be flexible though – if the speeches run for thirty minutes instead of five, or a new priority comes to light, those involved will need to be able to adapt quickly.
  • Unpredictability is in our nature
    The behaviour of your guests on your special day can never be predetermined, and neither can the behaviour of our staff through times of change. Evaluate the factors that may contribute to someone acting out of sorts and appreciate that sometimes ‘life happens’ and people are preoccupied with other issues. The way we behave is how we are communicating with the world at that moment, and we can encourage behaviour change sensitively and tactfully where it is not appropriate.
  • Be prepared for setbacks
    Ensuring a wedding goes smoothly is largely dependent on the many cogs of the machine running interdependently and reliably. If you lose one cog, then the whole thing may grind to a halt. Ensure that you have a Plan B for everything, and monitor when some of your cogs may be losing enthusiasm or falling behind and may impact the success of your initiative. If your senior management buy-in is dwindling, it is crucial to get that group back on your side; diagnose their issues and deliver the assurance they need that this will ultimately make the organisation more effective.
OD is never just about me, it’s about us. I am grateful to have the Do OD community as a valuable resource and network of like-minded, amazing people with great ideas and supportive natures. OD is not about what I want to achieve, it’s about finding what will work for everyone in the organisation at that moment in time.  

The ultimate goal of OD is to improve the organisation through the people within it. With a wedding, it is to marry the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with. Never lose focus of the final outcome. That is all that matters in the end, not the long and bumpy journey it took to achieve it.

Rebecca Watts (neé Webber) is the OD Programme Manager for Health Education East of England and works part time as Senior Programme Officer for Do OD at NHS Employers. You can connect with Rebecca via Twitter @NHSRebecca, email address and Linked In.

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