Archive for May, 2015

Evidence of system-wide consultation sustainment

May 24, 2015

I was the first OD and graduate student in the first Masters program of any Catholic university in the world at Loyola of Chicago.

Dr. Gerard Egan, the founder of the OD program involved one of our classes to help him prepare to introduce a long term Organization Development journey to the leadership of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This was in the 70’s. They are still doing great OD.

See below. Now that is sustainment!

Note the great questions they utilized. Why are they great? Because their system-wide questions.

I have been using the same three questions in 95% of my summits since the late 70s. Why? Because they always work and surface the priority conversations.

If there was one key concept of our Loyola program, it was feedback.
Note how feedback was solicited from a representation of the whole system in the NO case below.

I just saw the article below on the Internet this morning. I copied directly a couple of the key paragraphs to support my notion of “Whole System.” Most of you could facilitate this same kind of process in the systems that you work with. Oh. Yes! One must have support from the executive in charge.

The article

“After spending months meeting with rank-and-file Catholics to get FEEDBACK on how the local archdiocese is doing, Archbishop Gregory Aymond on Friday laid out the priorities the local church will focus on over the next three to five years.

In September, Aymond will announce 18 goals that fall in line with those priorities. The goals will be measurable, will have target dates and will include new programs or the reconfiguration of old ones.

John Smestad, who is now executive director of planned change and ministries, will be in charge of working with the departments within the archdiocese to make sure the church is focused on meeting the goals that are developed.

The rare FEEDBACK-seeking process, called a consultative synod, involved about 4,000 Catholics who were asked three questions:

What is the local church doing well?
What can we do better?
What three priorities should we set for the next 18 to 36 months?

The consultative synod included 16 meetings, 10 of which were open to the public. The others were held for selected groups, such as priests and deacons.
After the meetings ended in September of last year, teams of analysts sorted the priorities by theme and identified the most-cited priorities across all fields.”

End of quote

A few personal reflections:

I recall posting large newsprint on Dr. Egan’s office door in Metz Hall to give him feedback on the program.

I said what was working for me was the emphasis on feedback and the encounter groups (T-Groups).

I said what was not working for me was the lack of systems thinking. I recommended he could rectify that by writing a book bringing the concept of systems into our awareness.

What influenced my answers was that I had just arrived on campus from spending the previous two weeks in a two-week consultation lab with Val Dupre at National Training LABS. The lab helped me became obsessed with the concept of system. I was already in the feedback camp.

In any case, Father Egan did write a book with the word system in it. The title:

Human Development In Human Systems: A working model

Another story: I just spoke to Jerry the other day. He shared that his Skilled Helper book is in it’s 9th edition and has become the most popular relationship textbook used in universities around the world.

In one of our classes, we created the outline for the first edition of the book. One of our definitions of organization development was simply: TO HELP! I still use that book to help my clients.

Jerry was an engagement guy. There were no lectures. There were intense encounter groups. All classes were highly innovative and interactive. In fact, I believe we have the world’s record for the most participants in a T-group at one time. If remember right, it was 500 participants for two weeks. We placed lots of Kleenex at all tables in the cafeteria.

All my whole system transformation work is based off the principles of the T-Group. I’m going to be leading the first Whole System Transformation Summit in Thailand this next week. I think I’ll need some Kleenex. I will have tears of joy.

Other than my family and spiritual life, I live to see transformation occur in the life of an organization.

In a first, we will integrate my WST and Dr. Perla Rizalina M. Tayko’s “Whole Brain Literacy.”

Stay tuned for the iBook telling our story.

Have been asked to renew WST LinkedIn group: WST and Sex

May 23, 2015

Russ Briggs, a member of our Linkedin asked me why sexual harassment is not a good primary focus for whole system transformation.

Here are my 2 cents:

WST touches the heart mind and soul of the organization collectively. Simply, the system does not care about sexual harassment as a whole.

The executive team is under so much pressure that they have a little time to have a conversation about sexual harassment. Their solution is let HR and the lawyers deal with it so we can get on with their work

From a creditable Facebook or Linkedin source today. 88% of today’s leadership style is geared for production or manufacturing. Only 8% of organizations today focus on such. Leaders, especially in manufacturing systems essentially have a philosophy that doesn’t care about humanity or people being scarred for life through sexual harassment. They just care about profit, quality and shipping on time, customer satisfaction, beating their competition etc.

Of course, there are exceptions. One exception is my client since 1978. Twin Cities Die Castings. Current owner Doug deeply cares about his people. He learned from his father, Jim Harmon, what it meant to be responsible for their families well being. My challenge was that there was no turnover for maybe 25 years in the top team. It has taken me until this year for the top to realize that consequences for lack of performance is a must. (Thank you to what I learn from John Spence here on LinkedIn).

Now I believe, as Russ has indicated to me personally that in order to resolve the sexual harassment issues in a system; all sectors must be involved. I agree. Whole System Transformation requires breakthrough large group interactive events. There is no way management is going to spend the time & resources on such a topic when it is faced with chaotic, complex, surprising, ambiguous, vulnerable and change dynamics in its environment.

In fact, the new drift from the Drucker Institute says if our companies do not see transformation as a priority, they are in deep trouble. At their recent summit in Europe with 2,500 in attendance, they concluded that most managers do not have a clue about how to create enterprise-wide shifts. Shifts like the caterpillar becomes the butterfly where there is no reverting back to the old culture.

I do know how to facilitate transformation and we keep getting better at it each year.

The OD and the Change Management people and big consulting firms WILL figure how to foster Transformation sooner than later.

India: Whole System Transformation

May 18, 2015

Emerald Insight Journal, known as the holder of significant research in the world for libraries phoned me one day and asked me to write my lifetime learning.  They said you have a limit of two thousand words. I laughed. In the end my co-authors and I got it to 2500 words. The article became the top selection in their organizational change journal last year.

As you will read on my LinkedIn profile, my focus now is leaving the Lippitt, Dannemiller, Sullivan legacy to blossoming or distinguishedly experienced highly competent change agents.

Because of personal reasons I am choosing change agents in Asia, Africa and the Middle East  including Euroasia like Turkey.

My first request of them is to take my Emerald article and add their personality and tune it to the local culture.

Santosh and Divya have competently done so.

Click on the link below to read. Your feedback is welcome.

Organization Development – Managing Change: Engaging the Whole System

Allow me to repeat something. It is on my mind continually.

Recently The Drucker Institute met with 2500 people in Vienna. The conclusion of the conference was simply that the world’s organizations must transform themselves immediately. The second conclusion was that they and management worldwide does not know how to do it.

I know how to do it!!!!!

I coined the phrase Whole System Transformation in 1974.

Mastering something requires daily practice and client feedback on a daily basis. Such is what I’ve been doing for over 40 years.

Stay tuned. I want to share openly everything I know about leading transformation & change.

Lippit who wrote the first book ever on organization development in 1957 told me personally that he does not believe in charging for knowledge.

An invitation to publish with me: One of Asia’s greatest transformation cases

May 17, 2015

I will be publishing with one of the leading CEOs in Asia the transformation case that he and I lead with my local change agent, Dr. Iwus.

Not long ago a PhD student  interviewed me in depth about the case for her thesis. The interview is 25 pages. It was recorded and transcribed.

I invite you to turn the pages into a publishable document that will include your name.

Additionally I will share the client file with you along with numerous pictures and many videos. You will learn.

Maja,  my associate, and I  just do not have time to edit and make it presentable. I do believe there is rich learning  for you and others that we wish to share.

I have this play of transforming organizations figured out.

My  life’s purpose now is sharing my legacy with others.

Contact me at if interested.

The results are extraordinary. The CEO has published a popular book led by our effort.

I will video his view next week and publish the case with Dr. Iwus, Dr. Dwi, & Ms. Balasi.

Our publication will be quite different than what I’m inviting you to publish.  What you will publish will be much more useful to practitioners.


Someone told me that a tagline for me should be:

Everyone is talking about transformation these days but Roland actually does it!!

A current definition of change agent

May 13, 2015

The following was part of a send to me just now.

Change Agent …. noun
A person or thing that encourages people to change their behavior, attitudes, and knowledge.

Change agents are leaders who cut across the organization and its business units without regard to the traditional hierarchy.
– McKinsey Quarterly

I was just thinking that I know only of other original 100 Change Agents still living that started in the change and OD world before I did in 1962. If you know of more, kindly let me know. I think Peter Block started in 1968 if I remember correctly from his story of how he got started. He tells the story as do other founders in our online section of Practicing OD with Wiley.

They are:

Robert Crosby. He started in the 50’s and is the most experienced T-Group leader. He and I more than anyone else have built our work on the T-Group. He is publishing with me these days. Both my team building or phase 1 of my standard structured process and phase 2 with large groups come right from the theory and principles of the T-Group. Both Dr. Crosby and I have figured out how to take the risk out of the transformation experiences that we all went through in the 60’s.

Irv Rubin from MIT. He is the living expert on Feedback. He has the only book out there on feedback. His mentor and mine, Charlie Seashore also had a book just dedicated to Feedback or Feedforward. I am publishing Dr. Rubin’s latest work on feedback now.

Ed Schein, my professor at Pepperdine and key author in all my practicing OD Editions.

All three of the above are active on Linkedin these days.

Another key person in the original 100 club is Warner Burke. WWB is known for defining the field organizational change. He heads the most important Ph.D and Masters program in social organizational psychology at Columbia. Social psychology was coined by Kurt Lewin. I believe that Group and Organization Social Psychology is one of the best preparations to do OD. Warner started a year or two after I did.

And the only women I know still living is Billie Alban!

She is not real active these days in OD. She likes to spend time with her family and grandchildren. We will publish her latest work at the National Organization Development Network special section where my fellow editors ( Rothwell and Stavros) will b doing an extended Wiley Practicing Organization Development publication

Dick Beckhard a close friend with all of us said that to be an original change agent you had to be having organizational development private consulting your full time employment in 1967. He says in his “Change Agent” book that there were 100 of us in 1967. Yes. We all knew each other. We all at one time or another we’re hanging out at NTL.

We just lost Roger Harrision to the heavens this past month. I will publish his last work on organization love. He was the key OD person in Europe and is famous for the organization Iceberg theory. He said that the real life of the system is below the safe water line of conversation. What OD really does is to bring up the truth in a safe way that automatically creates positive change. Billie writes such in the fourth edition of my Practicing OD. It will hit the book shelves in Sept. 2015.

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