Recipe or Adaptation?

We read that as many as 75% of change processes end with sub-optimal results – and some authors even say most change processes end up as failures.

A mechanic can often follow a step-by-step process to repair a specific problem with an engine. The same applies in many other areas where one works with inanimate objects. However when designing an engine the use of fixed processes becomes less of an option. Every subject utilises a number of key principles or processes. When we consider Accounting, all accounting departments make use of e.g. journals, double entry systems and T-accounts. However, no two accounting systems are identical and no competent accountant will take a system, developed for the hospitality industry, and attempt to apply it - as is - in manufacturing.

The principle of ‘one-size fits all’ cannot even considered when working with people.

Organisation Development also has key principles and processes. The problem is that every environment differs and the reactions of people are not predictable.

When we consider the 75% failure rate mentioned above, many of these failures stem from people;

  • not fully investigating / understanding the reality of the organisation,
  • attempting to implement a “recipe” approach to Organisation Development,
  • attempting to apply concepts from a case study or book without adaptation,
  • believing there is a magic solution (read latest best-seller) to people-related problems in an organisation.

Perhaps it is pertinent to end with the quote form Alice in Wonderland, where the Cheshire cat says to Alice: “If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

The question is: ‘Do you just want to end up where any road takes you?’ OD is a process requiring constant adaptation, review, planning and re-planning.

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