November 5th 2019

Key opportunities for organisation development – Interview with Margaret Heffernan

What are the opportunities for organisational development and what barriers does it need to overcome in order to be successful? Watch this interview with, author and broadcaster Margaret Heffernan.

[00:00:06] Gillian: Margaret, you're chairing our event today. What messages are you taking away in terms of the opportunities for OD and our organizations today?

Margaret: I think what's really interesting is the hunger there is to think about O.D., to think about organizations in a much more systemic way to a large degree. I think in the last 20 years, maybe more. You know, there's been a real splintering of H.R. into all sorts of specialists functions, and they've become little silos all by themselves. And there's a real need, I think, to go back and integrate those into some kind of way of thinking about the organization that thinks both about the people in it, the business that it's doing, the context in which it operates and so on. And those things are half are connected. You can't if you disconnect them, you operate under a kind of false model of the world. And I think that's really what I'm seeing here, is that disconnecting and specializing all those different aspects of O.D. has made it less powerful than I think everyone here today thinks it could and should be. What do you see as the main barriers that it already has to overcome to be successful? Well, I think, first of all, it has been marginalized. So that's a barrier in and of itself. I suspect there is a little bit of lack of confidence, which becomes a kind of internalized barrier. I also think there is a tendency for organizations to prefer something simple and organized. And really O.D. accepts the fact that organizations are not simple, they are complex systems. So one of the barriers is to help people understand that something that is inherently complex up to a point cannot be simplified without producing a distorted version of itself. But I think also. In every organization I work with. There is a tendency to rely on old values. Let's just be more efficient. Let's just cut costs. Let's get rid of as many people as we can because that's where the trouble always comes from. And I think that actually that the reliance on those things, specifically the reliance on efficiency, actually exacerbates risk. It doesn't mitigate risk.