Moonshots for OD

Source: 800px-Moonrise_over_the_cliffs_in_Zion

A couple of years ago the management guru, Gary Hamel, challenged the management community to focus on 25 ‘moonshots’ over the next few years.  This was due to his, and others, view that the world of management had largely lost its way.  The progress of the early 20thcentury had not been matched in the later half.  However, in the meantime, in subjects such as medicine, information technology and other disciplines enormous strides had been made that have had profound effects on our lives.  I have attached a link with more information:  http://www.managementexchange.com/moonshots

I think the same is largely true for organisational development.  The direction and sense of urgency set by the likes of Kurt Lewin and others immediately after World War 2 have shaped organisational development, action learning, and action research etc as we see them today.  But what of the future direction; what should our moonshots be.  To my mind, if we do not develop this clarity then organizations, the society of which they are part, employees and the practice of OD itself will suffer.  This means redefining both the message and the means that Lewin clearly articulated to take into account the complexity and the turbulence of the twenty-first century?

So what would be my OD Moonshots be.  They would include:

  • To ensure that there is practical benefit and good in what we all do.  And to keep this focus alive thoughout our work in conversations at all levels.
  • A focus on practical problems that people and organizations face, and in working on these problems to achieve progress.  And in doing so for people to develop confidence and the ability to tackle future issues.
  • In recognizing the importance of targets and measures to encourage people (who set them, are accountable for them and those hold others to account) to look beyond those metrics and to ask themselves: ‘does one’s experience and intuition reconcile with what I’m being told’.
  • How to keep the conversations alive on what the organization’s vision is and how this relates to people’s day to day job in practical concrete ways.
  • How we can allow (and even encourage) people to make small mistakes safely.  By this I mean that innovation comes from motivated people who work at the interfaces between disciplines and/or at the coalface (here I use the term very loosely indeed).  They should be rewarded for achieving results, but also allowed to learn and develop when it goes wrong.
  • Encourage people to be more reflexive of their practice with others, to pause and to consider questions such as: what are the longer term implications for our actions; what is the impact on society and the environment; why do we continually work in the ways we do?
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2 thoughts on “Moonshots for OD

  1. Thanks Pete. I put this question on the Organisational Development Linked-in Group that I’m a member of and there was some really interesting dialogue. The point about family and citizen is a really good one (thanks Jules if you are reading this); perhaps I would extend it to three hats – self, community (family and friends and those we work with) and our environment (which would include our society). There was a well-known business article in the 70’s that made the point that all that was important was ‘shareholder value’; this paper really caught on and (it seems to me) has caused enormous harm. By wearing two or three hats will inevitably bring tension from time to time, but I think that is actually quite good in that it makes people pay attention and to talk about those tensions with each other. Mindlessly heading down the shareholder value path caused many to abdicate collective responsibility.

  2. Really like this Rob. Especially “practical benefit and good in what we all do”. In my mind, it also raises the question of good for whom?

    Somebody at the Conscious Business meetup on Monday (Jules I think) reminded our table of the twin Athenian ideas of “family” and “citizen”.

    Everyone wore two hats. Our culture seems to be more a one-hat one – looking out for self and family and friends. Maybe we need to go back to two hats?

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