Would The Real OD Please Stand Up?

Conferences and seminars are both great networking events as you get to meet a lot of people. They are also opportunities to hear some great and thought-provoking conversations. I had one such exchange last year while talking to a professional colleague 0f mine. Somebody new came in and introduced himself to us only to find out that he and my colleague were both part of the same extremely large organization and part of two different entities.

Question to my colleague after the customary business card exchange: “What is your role in our company?”

Answer: “I am an Organizational Development (OD) manager.”

Response: “Ah, so you are in the training department.”

Reaction: “NO, I AM NOT. I am in OD. As you know, training is a different department.”

This emphatic exchange prompted me to explore where we are in the field of OD. It also made me realize that we really do need to get back to basics.

OD is a much used and often abused term which creates a variety of reactions among organization members. The most tactical and basic reaction is that it is often associated with Training. At other times, it can create confusion with another OD, which is Organization Design.

Yes, a degree in Human Resources and associated fields educate practitioners in the theory and field of OD. However, the reality is that the maturity of organizations, and the impact we create with our roles in organizations, determines the application of it.

Let’s go back to basics on OD.

One classic definition of organization development comes from Richard Beckhard’s 1969 Organization Development: Strategies and Models:

“Organization Development is an effort (1) planned, (2) organization-wide, and (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health through (5) planned interventions in the organizations “processes,” using behavioral-science knowledge.”

There are a few things we need to remember in order to make OD truly real and impactful:

A) Dynamic process: OD is an evolving process and it is critical for us to remember that it is not a static checklist of things that need to be done. The effort to increase organizational effectiveness and health is a continuous exercise. The frameworks and processes of OD theory are often only methods to provide structure and rigor to ongoing initiatives. The process below is a good example of the dynamic process of events that may happen in a program roll out.

Image                                                                    source: Western Washington University

B) OD and Change: OD interventions are usually put front and center when there is a major Change Management initiative being proposed. While OD and Change Management do go hand in hand, change is constant in today’s environment. Therefore, the role of OD is not a transactional solution, but a continuous value proposition for organizations.

C) Value Based Practice: The core tenant of Organizational Development practice is that it is a value-based practice. It is essential for OD practitioners to ensure that values such as Inclusion, Authenticity, Empowerment, Sponsorship, etc. are all explicitly practiced in all stages of work.

D) Facilitate Contracting and Marketing: Two of the core competencies of a practitioner are the ability to contract with stakeholders and also market OD efforts. Firstly the OD practitioner has to be able to actively contract with various leaders and stakeholders across the organization’s need, and ensure clarity in the rationale for ongoing initiatives. As defined by Beckhard – “Managed From the Top” clearly states the need to ensure that senior leaders support actively and visibly sponsor OD initiatives. The role of the OD professional is to facilitate the sponsorship conversations with leaders, and is a critical competency that needs to be developed. Additionally, once the support and sponsorship is secured, it is now time for the practitioner to market the initiatives (he second competency) in the organization and gain support from employees across levels. The value of group engagement is critical and, again the role of the practitioner as a facilitator cannot be emphasized enough

E) Defining Expectations: Success of any OD initiative is directly linked to the ability to identify and define clear desired outcomes and ensure that the expectations of the leadership are met. Clear desired outcomes need to be determined before the commencement of any program, especially if there are long term

F) Feedback and Measuring Success: In order to ensure impact of the initiative and any associated learning solutions, OD practitioners can deploy ROE (Return of Expectations) methodologies to ensure that results can be measured. To do this successfully, practitioners need to have strong data measurement and analysis skills – a competency often overlooked in HR and OD departments.

Organizational development is an extremely complex humanistic process. It has the potential to add business value to the organization and increase its effectiveness on an ongoing basis. This potential value is in our hands as OD practitioners, and we are only able to maximize our relevance and value proposition if we do this right. OD is NOT training. Training and development is an outcome of an OD intervention.

Let the real OD please stand up and take its place.


Post by Vinay Kumar – C2C Director & Principal Consultant

Is your perception your reality?

What do you see?

What do you see?

“Your perception is your reality.”

Many of us know this quote and some of us agree with it and others might argue that there is not only perception but also an absolute reality, either from a religious, spiritual or scientific standpoint. Then again I can argue that nothing is absolute, and that it is all a matter of what you choose to perceive… and believe. But let’s not get bogged down into these discussions, but focus on the main item in this statement, “perception”.

There is a lot written about perception, many have expressed and argued their view and opinion on the subject. What I would like to do is look at it from a very practical point of view, and most of all to Keep It Simple (KIS). Let me say that I am a strong believer in the power of KIS. I believe that in today’s world there is already so much complexity around us, which overwhelms us to a point where it is keeping many of us from being happy and successful. Also, in order to grow and develop (be it as an individual or an organization) we need to simplify things, unwrap ourselves from the conditioning and bureaucracy and strip down to the essence, the core of the matter.

Ask a fool a question and you will get a simplistic answer;

Ask an expert a question and you will get a complex answer;

Ask a master a question and you will get a simple answer.

This week I had a great meeting with a colleague coach who talked about perception and how it creates a person’s reality. It got me thinking about something that I contemplated in my early twenties, namely “Who am I really?” Am I who I think I am, how I perceive myself to be… or am I what others say I am, how others perceive me to be?

So the question is, is your perception your reality or is the other person’s perception of you your reality? This is an important difference and plays a significant role in the awareness you are developing about you and the reality you live in.

Let me answer this question with a little story;

There is a man driving a car on the highway and on the radio there is a news-flash: “Please be aware that a ‘ghost-driver’ (car going against traffic) has been spotted near Hamilton on highway 6 heading North.”. The man in the car thinks, “that is exactly where I am driving now, but there is not just one ‘ghost-driver’ there are hundreds!”.

Most of us live in our own world where our perception of things is our reality… so I am wondering how many of us are really like that man on the highway, driving in the wrong direction.

Post by Vincent Bouw –  Director and Principal Consultant  C2C South East Asia

5 Reasons We Shouldn’t Bury Instructor Led Training (ILT) just yet

It has become a very popular hobby among L&D professionals to bash Instructor Led Training (ILT) at the profit of social learning, self paced learning or even individual coaching.

There is no doubt that new technology based forms of learning are great in the way that they allow learners to use new interfaces that sometimes fit their learning style and lifestyle  better. There is also no doubt that coaching is an extremely powerful, highly personalised development approach.However, this does not mean that our ancient ILT was never effective or “just doesn’t work for digital natives”(sic) or “goes against adult learning principles.”(sic)

When I read or hear this, I really wonder what kind of ILT people have been attending or have been facilitating. If done properly, ILT can be a very effective part of someone’s development.

1. ILT allow participants to share experiences with one another with someone to facilitate the exchange and help them debrief these experiences in order to identify learning points. They can also sometimes learn by listening someone else’s question, and subsequent discussion,that they had not thought of.

2. ILT allow participants to confront their perspective to others. Someone from the HR function might discuss empathy very differently than someone from Information Security and they will both build a better understanding of the business by being exposed to each others perspective.

3. Being exposed to different perspectives and mental models also builds can also be a good way to build acceptance of diversity of others but also assertiveness when debating with people with different opinions.

4. ILT are a great place to network. Participants often get a chance to meet colleagues they would never meet otherwise or meet peers from other organizations.

5. ILT can also be a good occasion for intact teams to step back from every day operations and spend time together developing skills that will enable the team to work better.

So, is ILT only way to develop new skills? No.

Are technology based learning systems useful? Yes.

Are other forms of development like coaching, group process facilitation and mentoring also useful? Yes.

The only thing I hope the L&D community moves away from is the either/or mentality. Effective development initiatives are the ones that understand how to blend different  methods in order to achieve real development.

Post by Guillaume Gevrey – Director & Principal Consultant C2C

The War For Talent Is Over And Talent Has Won


The term “War for talent” was coined by McKinsey & Company in 1997. It referred to the competition companies were facing to recruit and retain talented employees. In his report ‘Predictions for 2014’, Josh Bersin rightly said that ‘the war for talent is over and talent has won’.

The war for talent might be over, but the need for technical and professional skills has never been higher. The rapid changes of our business environment, as well as the recent technological advances, have created an enormous demand for new and specialized skills. Recently I spoke to a Malaysian client in the Oil & Gas industry, who shared with me that the skills he needs in his organization, are not readily available in the market. An even bigger problem he said was the duration of the learning cycle. It can take almost 4 years for a young engineer to become an experienced contributor in his organization, and to grow them to leadership positions can take as long as 10 years. Unfortunately, he is not alone as many organizations are facing similar challenges.

The answer to these challenges is an integrated approach to talent learning and development. All the elements of talent management, including talent learning and development, need to work as one integrated system. No one learning and development intervention stands alone, they need to be stitched together to address the various talent challenges.

Talent development has always been closely linked with performance management. Looking at the range of performance management systems, one end of the scale can be defined as ‘pull’, using performance development techniques. The other end of the scale can be defined as ‘push’, using measurement techniques. Most companies are still managing for performance through performance measurement (Hay Group, 2006), often with very little added value to the overall performance and productivity of the organization.

Performance development is mainly done through learning events i.e. training. Research shows that learning events only have a short and limited impact on performance and productivity. However, when we implement contextualized learning solutions, for example when training is followed up with coaching, performance and productivity increase soars. Research is showing that performance development through contextualized learning solutions, is much more effective in helping people develop skills and competencies, and has the highest business impact (see figure 1: Continuous Learning Model by Bersin by Deloitte, 2013).

Continuous Learning by Bersin Deloitte

All this leads to one conclusion, in order for talent learning and development to be effective and add long-term value to your organization, you need to look at skills gaps today and into the future, and develop contextualized learning solutions to build a capability supply chain now.


Post by Vincent Bouw – Director & Principal Consultant C2C South East Asia

4 Steps to Creating A Culture of Customer Service in Organizations

Customer Service

With increasingly competitive and highly globalized businesses, your customers are faced with myriad choices when they buy a product or service. Assuming the product or service quality is the same amongst vendors, their loyalty and commitment to your brand can greatly be influenced by the quality of the service your personnel provide to them. Organizations with poor and inconsistent customer service quality are bound to create unsatisfied customers resulting to loss of business and tarnished image. Thus, in this article, we examine how an organization can develop a culture of service that can provide enduring impact to your customer loyalty.

Step 1: Develop a customer service mission statement. The mission statement translates the vision and core values of your organization with regard to how your customers are treated and valued by your management and personnel. Your customer service mission statement should be clear and should truly reflect your organizational commitment to make it happen. It should not be a mere lip service or some good sounding slogan devoid of implementation plans and resources.

The mission statement determines the intention and direction of culture of the organizational customer service culture. A misdirected mission statement would create confusing messages, inefficient systems and procedures and ill-equipped and non-empowered personnel to tackle the challenges and issues with customers. Get the mission statement right and you’ll get your customer service climate right. An example of a customer service mission statement is as follows:

Our organization aims to create a friendly, respectful, attentive, systematic and speedy response and resolution to our customer concerns [within a specified timeframe or metrics].

The above statement enumerates core values such as friendliness, respectfulness, attentiveness, being systematic and speed. The statement can include duration or metrics to meet at each customer service interaction. What is the customer service that you want your customers to experience in every interaction they have with your organization?

Step 2: Plan and implement a customer service climate within your organization. The climate is primarily driven by the core values of the mission statement. In order to develop the right climate, systems, procedures, tools and methodologies will have to be in place in complete harmony with each other resulting to the customer service promise you have made in words or capsulated in the service or purchase agreement. In delivering that promise, it will involve cross-function collaboration and cooperation in most instances. Without clear and understood systems, efficient tools, and defined roles and responsibilities within the customer service team and supporting teams from other departments, you can expect internal chaos and conflicts resulting to waiting and disgruntled customers, and of course, potential business loss.

Let us examine the first value in our sample mission statement. Friendliness. Whilst it comes naturally to some people, friendliness is hardly natural at all. Friendliness is achieved by teaching the customer service personnel to mindfully visualize the customers as an important part of the organization’s business. After all, without the customers, the business has no purpose whatsoever. The product or service must be of use to someone. Friendliness results from the use of proper words, greetings, questions, gestures, movements, eye contact, voice modulation intonation and pause that makes the interaction pleasant and with pleasure. Most of all, friendliness is a state of mind and a certainly an attitude – a decision. I can opt to be friendly or unfriendly today. A dissonance between words and actions will certainly create an unfriendly customer interaction. Hence, friendliness is achieved by following guidelines, steps, and tasks that bring out the right behavior and attitude towards a concern and towards a customer and through a mindful decision to do so.

Creating the right climate for customer service includes integrating to your organizational performance management philosophy an appropriate reward system encouraging a culture of customer service. There are many forms of incentives that can cultivate customer service commitment. This will require an understanding of the motivational factors of your personnel. Some would prefer recognition, time off, financial reward and combination of all three. Use them as you see fit.

Step 3: Equip your personnel with the right competencies. The mission statement and the customer service climate determine the right skills, knowledge and behavior/attitude your personnel must imbibe. According to your organizational talent development plan, identify and define the essential customer service competencies.  Let us examine the value Attentiveness from our sample mission statement. Attentiveness is the result of various communication skills at work. Such skills include active listening, proper questioning, summarizing, and explaining in a friendly and respectful manner.

Not to forget to mention is the delivery of systematic and speedy response or resolution to an issue. Being systematic comes from clear thinking and logical approach to issue at hand. Being speedy results from being systematic but this can also be highly influenced or controlled by business tools or systems in place such customer service management systems (CRMs), order tracking system (OTS), etc.   I have pointed out that business tools are essential in creating the right customer service climate in the preceding section.

Step 4: On-going monitoring of the entire customer service initiative. The mission statement should be regularly evaluated if indeed, it reflects the vision and core values of your organization; the climate needs to be constantly assessed by way of regular customer surveys, internal feedback system, external expert’s monitoring and auditing, and data collection and analysis to determine if the customer service metrics or key result areas (KRAs) or key performance indices (KPIs) are being met or exceeded.

A culture of customer service delivers tremendous benefits to your organization. Clarity in your mission statement provides the right direction to your personnel. Organized and systematic procedures, efficient tools and defined roles and responsibilities minimize conflicts and misunderstandings. A culture tends to reinforce itself by persistent push to understand what it is that makes an excellent customer interaction. Customers’ positive feedbacks energize the organization and contagiously draw more customers. Talent development plans based on business objectives and personnel development needs and goals utilize resources wisely resulting to highly motivated and ever ready customer service personnel. Customer service is not about the product or service. It is about how your organization views customers. They are people with needs and they come to you under their own circumstances. Their anger or impatience may not be really directed to you but rather to prior experience or personal issues. A positive culture of customer service allows your organization to see people as humans and not just individuals to fill your till.

In summary, customer service becomes a way of life within your organization. Such way of life is influenced by organizational mission statement, customer service climate and your commitment to identify, develop and reinforce the right customer service competencies. Remember: satisfied customers means business continuity and growth!

Post by Ramil Cueto – Director & Principal Consultant C2C China

Soft Skills: The “Hard” Skill Of Leadership


Leaders do not compel people to follow; they inspire them to desire the same results as they do.

Corporate leaders need to know their business, their customers, and have the ability to execute a strategy effectively. In the current era of fast paced change, leaders not only need to stay current with the trends in the industry, but also have the ability to predict the future trends as well.

A recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, deployed over 600 employees working at manager levels and above, were asked to pick from a list of 14 leadership competencies, and the top three that emerged were:

  1. Building relationships
  2. Good communication
  3. Creating an environment of trust and respect

Building relationships is clearly important since at the heart of all businesses is people. The ability of relating to others is what helps in executing their strategy. Good relationships with employees, customers, and suppliers, can be the differentiator between great leaders and others.

Communication skill is often taken for granted, as most people believe that they are good at making presentations or speaking in public. Communication skill is not just one way information dissemination, it really is all about the ability to listen, and plan and act such that people know that they have been heard. Leaders often need to take some tough decisions. Often such decisions would be accepted, if there is proper explanation of why it is being taken.

The context of leadership has changed dramatically in recent times. In the current situation, customers are harder to find, even harder to retain; profit margins are lesser; employees are overworked and stressed. As a result, leaders need to handle themselves in this complex and challenging environment. This means leaders have to be highly self- aware, display high empathy, and be active listeners; to be able to effectively lead. These soft skills often collectively termed “Emotional Intelligence” are very important to a growing organization. Good communication skills, thus requires one to be a good listener and being able to articulate.

Creating an environment of trust and respect really has many things tied in. It leans a lot towards values – not just stated – but practiced. Being approachable and friendly is the starting point that helps breed trust and respect. Balancing tasks vs. results based on others’ feelings becomes important. Establishing values and living them become extremely important too. It is said that a leader’s actions are always amplified, thus walking the talk becomes very critical to the success of a leader. Creating an environment of trust and respect means a leader must actively demonstrate trust and respect in every interaction with employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders.

These soft skills would enable leaders walking their talk which is so critical to great leadership, that we could term these as “core” skills or “hard” skills of a leader.

Post by Sanjay Dugar – C2C Director & Principal Consultant

5 Steps to Reinvention


Simply put, many of us look to do some reinvention. Whether it is for New Year’s or before annual performance reviews, we reinvent in order to stay ahead and grow in our chosen professions.

Regardless of what the reasons you have may be, you do have reasons. Therefore, act like you have them. Look at the process like you would a fresh start or, if you prefer, a clean slate. It allows you to approach a scenario as if seeing it for the first time.

So, let’s start at the start –

Step 1. Where do I want to go? Right now.

Not so easy, is it? Just think about what it is that you want. In detail.

A generalized goal isn’t really a goal. Your ambition should have some precision and focus. You can and will adjust along the way, but you should aim as best as you can beforehand.

Step 2. Why do you want this? Your reasons need to be understood fully. It helps both as a motivational tool and as an actual purpose. Having a sense of purpose is a prime mover, and it often makes the difference between success and “never gonna happen.”

Step 3. Where am I right now? At this moment.

Make an honest assessment of yourself. No coulda, shoulda, woulda. After all, reinvention is about you. If you want to understand and achieve Step 1, you need a (real) start point. Do a full 360 degrees assessment. So… your mental mirror shows you as what?

Step 4. What do I need to do now?

In order to get there, you need to know what’s next. Are you going to wing it? Are you going to plot out your course and get alignment along with those around you who can help make this happen?

This can be either the easiest or the most difficult part of the reinvention. Planning comes easy for some. It is like brain surgery for others. For most of us, however, it usually comes down to asking ourselves the right questions

Start with the question of need. What needs must be satisfied (and for whom) in order for this to work? If you can address this well, you’ll know what tools you’ll need for success. The rest will follow.

Step 5. Do it. I mean now!


Post by Rick Zimmerman  – C2C Senior Facilitator