OD Superstar - Carolyn Norgate

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28 / 10 / 2015 1.03pm

This month we pay tribute to Carolyn Norgate from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. You may remember that Carolyn and her the team were featured as OD Superstars in July 2013.

Carolyn is about to leave the NHS and take up a fantastic new OD role in the civil service.  We are really sad to be losing Carolyn and wanted to honour her work in the NHS by making her our very special OD Superstar this month.  

1. What does OD mean to you?

I’m shamelessly borrowing here because I agree that OD is about how an organisation develops and implements strategy with the full involvement and engagement of its people.  I also really like the discussion of OD as a mindset, saying that it is about 'looking at the bigger picture – systems thinking, a belief in people, being opportunistic and systematic, being courageous, staying open-minded, being collaborative, having an improvement focus'. Taken from Griffin, E. What is Organisation Development? 

2. What OD work are you most proud of?

Using Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in a range of ways and contexts to change conversations and influence culture change.  I vividly remember a last minute re-plan of a workshop with a clinical team in 2009 from a problem focused session to an appreciative structure.  I believe it gave them a completely different experience of being with each other and understanding themselves. I also felt like I’d taken quite a risk and the process gave me a huge amount of confidence to be bolder with AI.

3. What have you learned during your time in OD at Guy’s & St Thomas’?

That OD is a helping profession, we are thought leaders and can lead corporate pieces (we look after embedding the trust values). My most effective work in OD has been working alongside leaders in this organisation or the wider health and social care system to help them achieve their goals.

4. What’s the one book or article on OD you would recommend?

There are so many!  I have a lot of books to move out of the office…But I’m reminded that as part of a ‘helping profession’ we need to have high self awareness (Beckhard) and one article that I still go back to is: The Self as an Instrument - A Cornerstone for the Future of OD by Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge (first published in OD Practitioner, 33(3), 2001) with an added intro by Mee-Yan from 2012.

5. What are you most looking forward to about your new role?

Both finding the similarities in OD practice and the public sector context and exploring the differences, especially regarding the scale of the civil service.

6. What advice would you give to an OD practitioner joining the NHS for the first time?

Connect, connect, connect! OD is a relational craft so build relationships within your organisation and also find OD colleagues to connect with (ask Do OD if you stuck for a contact point).

7. What song would you like played at your leaving party?

Something from the London Olympics Opening Ceremony soundtrack. Working in the NHS enabled me to part of that event and the way it brought a diverse group people together to achieve something amazing, was not only wonderful to be a part of, but also had a lot of parallels with OD.


Carolyn has not only done some amazing OD work in her own organisation, she has also been instrumental in the work of Do OD. Carolyn has been a member of our steering group for almost three years as well as helping to plan and deliver several of our key national events. Carolyn gave massive amounts of wisdom and energy to the OD capability project right from the start and became our first published Do OD author when she wrote up the capability work with James Traeger for the Journal of Action Learning & Research. Carolyn has brought so much to Do OD that we are very grateful for.

Paul Taylor said of Carolyn: “I hope this is not goodbye! I’ve personally appreciated so much of Carolyn’s work with us. She brings a fresh and dynamic perspective that combines her lived experience with a good grounded theory. Carolyn has added flair and artistry to our work. Her involvement in our work has made us better.”

Karen Dumain added:“Carolyn has been brilliant in sharing her OD theory and practice and offering this in so many different ways and I’d like to say a big thank you. I think OD is in her DNA! And I have really personally valued the grace, humour & thoughtful reflections that Carolyn brings. Not goodbye as now we have a fantastic link to the Civil Service!”

Carolyn, we salute you and thank you for everything. You can connect with Carolyn via Twitter.


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