Od vs Hr
We are witnessing and participating in an unprecedented dissolution of the boundaries of the field of organization development. In organizations around the world, the HRS function Is monopolizing the ODD function at an unprecedented pace, which is limiting our reach, blunting our effectiveness, and compromising our role. ” ODD and HRS Do We Want the Lady or the Tiger? By Matt Mailman Ding.
Ding. Ding. K, time’s up. Time to decide. Will it be door number one, or door number two? The lady or the tiger? In Frank Stockpot’s allegory (1882), a prisoner is ordered to choose between two closed doors.
Behind one is a woman whom he must marry sight unseen and live with for the rest of his life; behind the other is the tiger which would surely eat him alive. Without knowing exactly what is behind which door, how Is one to choose? And, which does one really prefer? Like the mythical prisoner, the field of ODD has been standing In front of two doors for too long, putting off the choice between them. One door would leave the ODD function embedded within HRS; the other would get ODD out to stand independently on its own two feet in the organization.
The field of ODD has been putting off this decision for too long? nice its inception, in fact?and it is time for us to make the decision. Well into our mid-ass as a field, we can’t really blame all of this mess on our forebears, because frankly we’re dealing with these choices Just as badly as they did when the field was first founded. We’re still standing looking at the same two doors between which our ODD forebears could not decide. Long History, Deep Roots This question about whether ODD should be part of HRS or should stand on its own goes back to the founding of our field.
What became organization development had its roots in the training and placement function, where the T group was the primary Intervention. At a panel of the founders of ODD at the 2009 Academy of Management conference in Chicago, almost every one of them, to a man, said that they were trained as writers or sociologists or engineers, but attended an ANT Institute T group where their lives changed. (Several also lamented that they were all white men in the field at that time, and on that panel at MOM. Following their ANT experiences, they tried to bring these insights they had obtained Into their organizations via the training function. By the ate sass, Just a few years after the field was founded by about a dozen Internal training and development people at Ant’s summer home in Bethel, Maine, the theory was, “let’s transform the way managers think about themselves and the ways they relate to people and solve problems, and once we’ve done that, we can send them back home to transform their own organizations” (Operas & Bradford, 2004).
Evidently, there were some who said that the ODD function should stand on its own and be independent to other intelligence (Burke, 2 ). Others, however, were concerned t the field of ODD was too new and unknown and should reside in the personnel or raining function, as advocated by Shell Davis of TRW Systems, Sys Levy from Pillsbury, Herb Sheppard formerly of Sees, Dick Backyard, and others. Their belief was that “ODD at the time was too new, too ephemeral, and too suspect to survive on its own in the organization …
Early on, then, two models or scenarios ODD and HRS: Do We Want the Lady or the Tiger? 17 about the place of ODD within the organization were debated regarding the wisdom of such a placement” (Burke, 2004). Theory Versus Fact The vast majority of the central thinkers, writers, and scholars in our field today (Cummings & Worldly, 2005; Marshal, 2009; Ferrymen & Worldly, 2009; Retell, et al. , 2009) write as if ODD is a separate and distinct field of practice, but the facts on the ground tell a different story.
We are witnessing and participating in an unprecedented dissolution of the world, the HRS function is monopolizing the ODD function at an unprecedented pace, which is limiting our reach, blunting our effectiveness, and compromising our role. As a field, we are behaving as if there is nothing we can do about it; it is as if we are watching ourselves in an automobile crash in slow motion, worried and concerned at hat we see, and yet unable to find the brakes or grab the steering wheel to avert the collision and all of the collateral damage.
Maybe the founders of the field were right that ODD was too new and too fragile to stand on its own. But they didn’t count on what’s happening now in the field of HRS. The Ascendancy of HRS Over the past 15 years, we have seen better and better leadership of the HRS function, with several universities now offering Masters’ degrees in HARM and HARD and several MBA degrees with an HRS concentration. The result has been a generation of stronger, more tragic HRS managers who have achieved a seat at the table and are trusted advisors at the top of organizations.
Many managers at the top of the HRS function are getting better by the year about understanding the dynamics of the organizations in which they serve. Increasingly, they can speak the language of the board room, and are not afraid to undertake even major organization change projects. This new generation of HRS leaders clearly understands that people and money are the powers that run organizations; and when the system can provide enough of the latter, their Job is to get Just enough f it into the hands of the former to get the Job done. And then return the rest to stakeholders. And to keep the organization out of court.
In these regards, they are notably different from the generation of HRS managers and VSP that preceded them, when there was no professional training for HRS managers and when these posts often went to the UP who was due to retire next. The evolution of the training function also has had an impact. Ever increasing pressures to reduce costs nave torched the training diminution to get smart about impact evaluation. Kirkpatrick (1998) four levels have forced the training function to kook beyond end-of-session “smile sheets” to defend their budgets and make the case that training is a valuable investment.
The result has been that training functions are now requiring training managers who have the skills to collect data, analyze it, and think systemically about what to do with it. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? If you needed The days of HRS staff being hired principally because they were people persons with DOD listening skills are gone. The trend toward activity based costing (BBC) is now showing the true cost of overhead functions such as HRS, and HRS is responding by asking itself more relevant to the business of the organization.
Many HRS staff are now called business partners, often reflecting an aspiration goal, but quite distant from the actual reality of their skills on the ground. With this smarter, more strategic generation of HRS managers comes the instinct and desire to have at hand one of the most powerful levers for organizational change and renewal, the ODD function. Thus the trend of ODD roles and functions being acquired by HRS. And, to be clear, in merger and acquisition terms, these are not mergers of equals; they are straight up acquisitions of the ODD function by HRS.
Another factor has been the pressure on HRS functions to be relevant to the business of the organization. The days of HRS staff being hired principally because they were people persons with good listening skills are gone. The trend toward activity based costing (BBC) is now showing the true cost of overhead functions such as HRS, and HRS is responding by making itself more relevant to the business of the organization. Many HRS staff are now called business partners, often reflecting an aspiration goal, but quite distant from the actual reality of their skills on the ground. Money to do that, wouldn’t you be looking for a DOD ODD person?
Often desperate to meet their utilization goals, the training function is very happy to let managers continue to believe that training is the answer to every problem, a kind of panacea for whatever ails. Leaders and employees alike seem to rely on training as the answer, believing perhaps that with the right education they can deliver what the business needs. That is certainly an easier solution to accept than facing ODD issues related to how people, teams, and departments relate and connect with one another, how business processes work, and how all connect with ND work toward the strategic direction of the organization.
So, it is no wonder that smart HRS leaders are looking to candidates trained and educated in ODD to take on these business partner and training leadership roles, resulting in even more blurring of the lines between ODD and HRS. 18 ODD PRACTITIONER Volvo. 42 NO. 4 2010 Differences Are Real, and Important By now, this author’s biases are probably clear: there are important differences between the ODD and HRS functions; and as these roles collapse and the differences disappear, the field of ODD is losing its unique position in the organization and its effectiveness overall.
We’re behaving as a field as if we uncoil be living in a both/and world around this, when the truth is exactly the opposite. Many in ODD struggle to find and hold boundaries that separate people and things. We spend our entire time helping our clients make better connections between each other at all levels?individuals and pairs, cross unit collaboration, organizations working toward better partnerships, etc. But when it comes to ODD and our HRS cousins, we should be sharpening and better defining our boundaries, not blurring them, because the differences in our functions are real and important.
The HRS function has a legally mandated, regulatory role: to provide people to fill Jobs, to reduce costs (for payroll, health care insurance, benefits, etc. ), and to keep the organization out of the courts and the press by ensuring compliance and avoiding claims of discrimination or harassment. People view HRS as the people you go to with a problem that you want to make official. People feel that going to HRS puts things in the record. They see HRS as the enforcers or policemen.
The ODD function has a developmental mandate; in fact, our Job is to increase the effectiveness of the organization and to maximize the potential of the human beings in the work force. We have theories, concepts, beliefs, and values through which we help our clients assure that there is alignment among strategy, structure, business process, and culture, while at the same time embedding human values such as honesty, respect, diversity, and voice.
One model (Marshal, 2006) outlines three domains of knowledge for ODD practitioners: В» understanding social systems, drawing on theories and ideas from the social sciences, including psychology, social psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, and others, consistent with ODD aloes; understanding the wows and whys of change, including the bodies of knowledge that help explain how all levels of the system?individual, group, organizational, community, and even societies change; and understanding the role of the third party change agent, especially aiding the person in charge as well as the system itself to bring about the desired changes, requiring an understanding of the issues, politics, psychological processes related to being a third party in a change process. That doesn’t sound much like the recruit, retain, train, and develop mandate of the HRS function, does it? It is hard to imagine even the highest functioning HRS departments being knowledgeable and skilled in all these areas. There are many in HRS who look at the list of ODD functions and say, “Oh, we can do that! ” And, on occasion, they may be right.
But the philosophies of the two disciplines are starkly different, as are the theory bases, the world views, the core skills sets, and their roles within the organization. There is a built-in conflict between the role of ODD consultant, coach or adviser with a developmental mandate working toward organizational effectiveness, versus the role to the R practitioner whose core mandate is regulatory and endorsement. Can a good HRS person advise on selected developmental matters, such as training strategies and needs assessments? Yes, as can a good ODD person. But the conflict of interest for the HRS staff shows up when the Action Research process of retreat planning and design requires them to interview staff about a manager’s effectiveness.
What staff member in her right mind would say something critical of their manager to someone from HRS, who is likely also to be involved in decisions about that manager’s promotion, pay, and even succession planning? Or their own? HRS has its hands on too many of the organizational levers and has too many mandates centering around enforcement and control to ever be effective at drawing out of managers the truth about their insecurities, anxieties, and the shadow sides, that is so necessary to doing good work and being effective in doing ODD. Troubling Examples These concerns aren’t Just theoretical, either. Quick conversations with a handful of colleagues, both ODD and HRS, turn up some troubling examples.
In a large multinational organization, The Different Functions Organization Development Ђ Improve the effectiveness of the organization Maximize the potential of human beings and their contributions to the organization Align strategy, structure, business processes, and behavior into an effective corporate culture Model and foster humanistic values into the workplace Human Resources Manage employee attraction, retention, development, and performance management Develop and manage programs for employee relations, staff wellbeing, workforce planning, and workload management Ensure equity and diversity Reduce labor costs Avoid litigation Enforce corporate policies 9 the ODD staff and external consultants were forced to follow the rules that govern the rest of the HRS function around meeting with VSP and senior managers. The HRS UP insisted that he attend every meeting that the HRS?and ODD! ?staff had with other VSP in the organization. Not Just marketing or contracting meetings, but actual project meetings as well. He was unwilling to make an exception for the ODD staff lest the HRS staff get upset.
Within weeks, his it was in Corporate Strategy along with the strategy and budget functions, where it had free reign of the organization and was in constant contact with the top dervish on strategy, structure, and corporate culture. It was later merged into the HRS function. The results: the best organization design people in town left (with all of their embedded knowledge) rather than be reassigned to deliver management training programs. Then a succession to HRS managers grade- practitioner is, then anybody can hang out a shingle claiming he or she is an ODD consultant. In fact, some years ago, there was an informal study of the members of the ODD Network that found that almost one third of them had taken on the label or the role of ODD consultant, with no previous education or training in the field.
Not All Bad News To be clear, the field has shifted largely positively, over the past few decades, responding to some of the “red flags” that Larry Greener (1972) identified for ODD, including: В» Putting individual behavior ahead of strategy, structure, process, and controls; В» Overemphasized the informal at the expense of the formal organization, driving more for openness and trust to change the culture, often at the expense of efficiency, hierarchy, and accountability; В» Driving open and trusting relationships as a normative model for change, without questioning the context or applicability in a even situation, and assuming that team building was always the preferred intervention; В» Putting process before task, enamored with the human dynamics of working together over getting the work done; and В» Treating the manager as Just another stakeholder, relatively uninvolved in the planning and conduct of consultant programs rather than the key stakeholder. Historically, the field has addressed many, if not all, of these red flags among strong and well-grounded practitioners. However, many of them are still quite evident in HRS people who are trying to do ODD today.
The Right Answer Reflecting on the various options for organizing and structuring the ODD function and constructing its relationship with HRS, the optimum solution is to establish In a large financial institution, the ODD function thrived when it was part of the IT function where it designed and facilitated large business process simplification projects. It had its best years when it was in Corporate Strategy along with the strategy and budget functions, where it had free reign of the organization and was in constant contact with the top leadership on strategy, structure, and corporate culture. It was later merged into the HRS function. The results: the best organization design people in town left (with all of their embedded knowledge) rather than be reassigned to deliver management training programs. Schedule became a huge constraint on the work of the ODD function because consultants (internal and external) could not get into his calendar to meet with their clients. In a science-based organization the ODD function was fully financially self-sufficient, recovering the costs and a bit of an “upgrade” from its internal clients. Other HRS managers got resentful of this chargeable mechanism. They forced the manager of the ODD program to stop cupping her costs, which effectively killed the ODD function because it had no free- standing budget of its own. In a university, a very strong and capable ODD function has been merged and renamed Learning and ODD, resulting in the organization’s best ODD talent being diverted into managing the training program for the university.
In a large financial institution, the ODD function thrived when it was part of the IT function where it designed and facilitated large business process simplification projects. It had its best years when ally reduced the ODD function to delivering two day team alluding retreats, and a cadre of dozens of internal and external consultants has been whittled down to less than 10. In one knowledge -based organization we know, the ODD person is required to have the HRS person present during all contracting and data collection meetings. Clients are now creatively working around the requirement by calling the ODD staff directly on their cell phones after hours to discuss matters that they can’t or won’t say in front of the HRS people, who are not trusted in that system.
No Boundaries, No Standards What Bradford and Burke (2004) said about the jack of standards in the field of ODD applies equally well to the lack of boundaries with the HRS function. “When there is lack of clarity as to the boundaries of the field and corresponding confusion about what the appropriate role of an ODD 20 the ODD function independently. Ideally, it would have a blended mandate and funding, charging back for local unit-specific work, and centrally funded for organization-wide efforts. There are instances when ODD should be working in partnership with the HRS function, specialists on one discipline speaking with and working closely with specialists of the other discipline.
There are instances when the HRS function would be the ODD function’s client; and there are instances when the ODD and HRS functions ought not to be working together at all, such as when there are conflicts of interest or large scale organization strategy or design projects not ready for implementation. There are disadvantages to being freestanding and independent within the organization. The ODD function may become vulnerable to exposure, scrutiny, and politics. Some ODD people can’t play in the C-suite (Burke, 2004). The function would have to earn its stripes and compete for money and mandate with there functions in strategic planning, financial management, budget, and yes, even HRS.
But the upsides of organizational independence are quite significant, and are evident now where strong ODD departments are standing on their own. The ODD function becomes central to the business of the organization, influencing strategy, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, restructuring, etc. It works upstream, providing early input on the development of plans and processes, able to bring a systemic perspective and ODD values to actions that previously had been made primarily on financial grounds alone. It is present and able to influence the setting of the agenda, not Just the implementation of it. But How to Get There? It is no longer enough Just to be good at process.
To be able to stand independently in organizations, free of the cover and support of the HRS function, ODD practitioners need to: В» Know the major environmental, regulatory, and financial drivers of the organization; Know, be known by, and trusted by the top leadership to the organization; Know what’s involved in evaluating, deciding, and implementing mergers and acquisitions, especially around blending corporate cultures and business processes; Be effective n working across cultures, in global environments, and especially today, virtually; and Be attuned to the organizational politics within the organization and within its governance structures. (Greener ; Cummings, 2004) Integrating sustainability and globalization into the world of ODD brings another set of challenges.
To play effectively as a free standing function, free of support from HRS, ODD practitioners need: В» New and better ideas for progress, guided by diversity, development, and sustainability; В» To understand and be effective at intervening in economic systems, balancing productivity with innovation, sustainability, and perversity; socially constructed and negotiated (Bushes ; Marshal, 2008). As the boundaries of the field have expanded over the past 15 years to include more systemic perspectives, there are new challenges for how to educate new ODD professionals (Minoan ; Farther, 2008). That’s a tall order for a field that has prided itself historically on being apolitical, focusing on the individual, following the lead of the client, ambivalent about asserting ourselves in leadership roles within our client systems, and seeing ourselves as a bit subversive in being countercultures. There is some good news here, however.