Evidence of system-wide consultation sustainment

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.

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