OE Consultants: Is There a Future for Them?

Since my “Death of the OD Practitioner” article was published about a month ago, I have been asked whether Organizational Effectiveness (OE) consultants will experience the same fate. My answer is “no.” Of course, that assumes that OE consultants do not follow the same destructive path that Organization Development (OD) practitioners chose.

OD practitioners made the mistake of not partnering with their clients to produce business results. OD practitioners looked at business executives (their clients) with disdain. They saw business men and women as bourgeois money-grabbers who didn't care about their workers. Their anti-business, anti-capitalism, anti-management rhetoric has led to their own demise. (You can't look down your nose at your business client and expect to stay in business yourself.)

OE consultants, who share a different mindset, will share a different fate. OE consultants respect their clients and serve as business partners. Let me make the following predictions about the future of OE consulting:

1. OE consultants who serve as strategic business partners will rise in status and recognition in their organizations. Salaries will rise too as the value of their expertise becomes more widely recognized. (A value-added approach will be critical to fulfilling this prediction.)

2. The title of Chief Learning Officer (CLO) or Director of Organizational Effectiveness will become commonplace at leading corporations. These positions will be responsible for all organizational learning and change efforts.

3. The role of OD practitioners will continue to decline in importance for two reasons: (a) OD practitioners have not adopted a strategic business partner approach, and (b) many OD practices have already been adopted by mainstream American businesses.

4. OE consultants will become more responsive to the needs of senior management. OE consultants will become a valuable in-house (or independent) source of guidance on tough management issues such as succession planning, the creation and transfer of tacit knowledge, and the development of organizational talent.

5. OE consultants will develop higher levels of consulting skills to increase their value to their clients.

If you are an OE consultant, there are several things you should keep in mind:

Bob Pike has said, “Deliver what is needed, not just what is requested.”

David Ulrich predicts, “Business organizations in the future will compete aggressively for the best talent.”

I have predicted, “In the years ahead, senior executives will be looking for high-level tacit knowledge and experience that will add to their organizations' core competencies and competitive advantage. These core competencies, in the form of highly developed human capital, will become the organization's most important form of sustainable competitive advantage.”

How are you going to add value to your organization's (or your clients') core competencies and competitive advantage? You can't stand still in a fast-moving world!

Dr. Mike Beitler is the author of the books "Strategic Organizational Change" and "Strategic Organizational Learning." He has many free articles and resources about organizational effectiveness available at http://www.mikebeitler.com/

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