Embracing the tension between what I long for and what really is
Blog post by Diederik Prakke
While “we OD practitioners” do lots of good, I agree that there are huge and fundamental flaws in most of our work. Symptoms like “checklist ticking” and “buzz killing” indeed express the problematic assumption that we are neutral observers and objective advisors. In reality our beliefs and attitudes not only influence what information we pay attention to, but also what is shared with us. The combined level of safety and challenge we create, determines the extent to which people open up. People will sense whether we adhere to Theory X or to Theory Y (the view that people are basically lazy and need to be lured into peak performance, or the view that people inherently yearn to contribute, if given the space). If we show our heart and humanity, people may entrust us theirs – that’s the opposite of objectivity and neutrality.
But there is more at stake.
Who commissions and supports organisational assessment and change? A donor, the organisation’s leadership, or a wide group of internal and external stakeholders? There has to be genuinely alignment for sustainable positive change – at least between leadership and OD consultant.
In the past I accepted to proceed before I had genuine leadership buy-in for the kind of change I believe in and love to facilitate. That is a dangerous proposition: If the ripple I help create is not endorsed and owned by the leadership, those who stick their necks out in response to my support, are exposed. I have to be daring and patient: Say it when I’m not convinced that we’re on the same page and step back.
There’s no negotiating on principles, and pushing by the donor won’t do. In fact, if there is a difference between the leadership and me, I have two hard things to do:
Refrain from action and truly accept the leadership as it is.
“Damn, if only you would accept my beautiful principles, I could do great work for you!” does not work. The biggest challenge in OD is not disagreement about the future we want to create, but accepting the diversity we start from. To target a change of hearts it is not enough as OD practitioner to talk so well that the leadership does not dare to openly disagree – it challenges me to endure and embrace the tension between what I long for and what really is.
MY NAME IS DIEDERIK PRAKKE. I HAVE OVER 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, FIRST AS AN ENGINEER AND NOW AS A LEADERSHIP TRAINER, CONSULTANT AND COACH WITH GOVERNMENTS, UNIVERSITIES, NON-PROFITS AND BUSINESSES. I HAVE TRAVELED EXTENSIVELY: 15 YEARS I LIVED AND WORKED IN BHUTAN, ALBANIA, NEPAL AND VIETNAM, AND CARRIED OUT ASSIGNMENTS IN TWENTY MORE COUNTRIES. I LOVE TO TRAIN AND COACH PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS IN THEIR WORLDTRIP TO FIND THEIR HEART ENRICHED AND SURPRISED AND TO FOLLOW IT. IN MY BACKPACK I CARRY SOME NICE EXPERIENCES WITH:
WAGENINGEN MASTERS IN WATER MANAGEMENT AND NON-WESTERN SOCIOLOGY
THREE-YEAR DEGREE AND CONTINUING AT PHOENIX OPLEIDINGEN IN UTRECHT. CENTRAL TO THESE COURSES ARE TA, NLP AND SYSTEMIC CONSTELLATIONS, BASED ON THE WORK OF BERT HELLINGER
MORE THAN 20 YEARS I AM STUDYING AND I MEDITATING AT SHAMBHALA, AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF PRACTITIONERS OF MEDITATION, WHICH INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION ARE COMBINED.
I WAS ALSO TRAINED IN THE DARING WAY, THE WORK OF BRENÉ BROWN ABOUT VULNERABILITY, SHAME AND COURAGE AND IN THEORY U, THE APPROACH OF MIT PROFESSOR OTTO SCHARMER
I LOVE MOUNTAINS, SILENCE AND MUSIC. I HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 14 YEARS AND FATHER OF TWO CHILDREN.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT DIEDERIK: MY TRAINING IS ALWAYS FUN. WITH DIEDERIK TRAINING IS A PARTY.
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