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SAODN Newsletter : October 2014

Chairman’s overview: strategy 2015

As I write I am conscious of the need for our profession to make a significant contribution to South Africa. I have seen more and more South African organisations recognising the role that OD plays apart from the traditional support functions. I believe that the rise in OD positions in South African organisations is a direct result of the work of the SAODN and of the core leadership of the SAODN. We serve in a time that demands so much from Organisation Development professionals. As South African citizens we have fewer and fewer known ways of being effective and healthy together. This is partly a result of the digital tornado that engulfs us and partly the result of the spasms of the colonial exit and the journey toward our authentically African way of being in organisation. I feel these collisions as productivity collapses, strikes, service delivery protests, the death of citizens at the hands of our armed forces and at the hands of other citizens. I believe that we can do so much to make sure that our organisations are effective and healthy, and I believe that our profession is well placed to be useful in that regard.

The SABPP has introduced the idea of standards to our profession, and it is up to us whether we embrace the accountability that comes with professionalization. We must come together as professionals as regularly as we can, and identify work that might make the most difference to the future of our organisations and of our nation. Our body was started by Dr Louise van Rhyn, continued by Debbie Blackburne and has now been taken up by Renita September. These leaders have been supported by volunteers across the country, as well as our international colleagues in the ODN and ODF. I have found no other South African body that serves my needs as an Organisation Development professional. I am grateful for every “OD corner” as much as I am grateful for the chance to attend Flourish! conferences. In the SAODN I find people who share the same concerns as I do, who give of their experience, and who want to belong to a profession of which they can be proud.

Your experience in the SAODN is most directly held by our superb regional conveners, who create the space for your contribution. We need you to support your regional convener through your presence and through the sharing of your experience. I hope that you who are reading this might find a way to be a part of the SAODN. Paying membership and attending the monthly regional café is still the most significant act of membership. As an educated, successful, optimistic, impactful practitioner please find a way to get involved, and to develop the profession that make a difference in our homes, our organisations, our country and our continent.

Some of our challenges for the coming few years include:

  • Responding to the vision that Renita September will set for her term as the CEO.
  • Supporting the regional conveners and Flourish! Conveners
  • Establishing the ethical foundation of the profession.
  • Continued development of standards to enhance practitioner development.
  • Celebration of successful projects to generate professional and practitioner recognition.
  • Continued development of the paid and voluntary management of the SAODN.

I wish Renita and her volunteer group all of the best for the next phase in the life of the SAODN as they build on the work done by the previous volunteers.

Craig Yeatman,
SAODN Chairman.

Flourish!2014 Feedback

On the 18th and 19th August 2014, just over 60 business leaders and development practitioners descended upon the beautiful Intundla Lodge for the third annual SAODN conference – Flourish! This year the theme was Partnering to Integrate: Purpose, Performance and People and we were delighted to have many returning delegates and many new faces (including international guests from Australia and the United States). Over the two days of the Flourish! 2014 Conference, delegates engaged with collaborators on topics such as Scenario Planning and enabling resilient organisational performance through personal coherence to the Rea Vaya Buses for Democracy case study and a story of the organisational effectiveness journey at Britehouse. Keynote speakers Johan Greeff and Paul Maseko thrilled delegates with their personal stories of OD practice and lessons learnt in South Africa in the 70s,80s and 90s; while Mervyn Malamed introduced the idea of the OD Ombudsman. Michael O’Brien engaged delegates with the question of culture and its integrating force in organisations and Bebe Oyegun challenged delegates to consider the story arc of managing people for performance and strategic opportunities. This year saw an unprecedented number of collaborators and a new take on integration and information synthesis. Between concurrent sessions, delegates had the opportunity to integrate their insights and thoughts by doodling, reflecting in silence, dramatization or storytelling. Indeed many chose to try all the different techniques over the two days! Debbie Craig and Darryn van den Berg added a new dimension to this year’s conference with the gamification of social media engagement. Engagement across all social media platforms, by those at the conference and those who were not able to attend, rapidly grew and certainly heightened the overall experience of Flourish! Between sessions and around the boma fire, connections were made, friendships fostered and learning and engagement enhanced. Flourish! 2014 closed on a rousing note with the final integration session dedicated to bringing together the many strands of the conference. Jen Taylor, Transformation Head at FNB South Africa, perhaps most succinctly captures the value of Flourish!: “Flourish! is no ordinary talking heads conference; it is an interactive experience, connecting practitioners with each other, and with emergent thinking and approaches. This year’s theme of partnering purpose, people, and performance led us to the “People with a purpose perform” realisation. I encourage anyone involved in getting people to flourish in the workplace to get in the room in 2015!” Be sure to save the date for next year’s conference… August 24th and 25th 2015 and don’t miss out.

Kyra Wainstein,
Learning Director

OD Corner Feedback (Cape Town): “The Resilient Practitioner”, Ron Hyams.

Being a subject after my own heart, this title immediately caught my attention. I was curious to meet Ron and hear what he had to say. What I appreciated was the fact that Ron wove his own experiences as a practitioner into his presentation. He re-counted recent and therefore fresh (ethically sound) examples of dealing with challenging clients; individuals who came up with comments such as “We’ve tried this before” or “This isn’t going to work.” I am sure Ron is not the only one to have heard the voice of resistance. All the more reason for resilience. Recounting these stories “from the trenches” Ron modelled three particular qualities of a resilient practitioner: (i) vulnerability (ii) courage and (iii) seeking help. Change leaders need to be a calm point in the storm. Four factors can help to build resilience. 1. Staying positive 2. Building agility 3. Being focused 4. Dealing with uncertainty Ron did far more than give tips on how to increase resilience as a practitioner. He offered a host of models from Peter Senge to Peter Block on how to manage Bedfellows, Allies, Adversaries and Opponents and how to bring a client back to focus on long term goals. We each see the world in different ways. There is no one reality. When an optimist encounters a bad experience they may say: “This is not like me” or “This has nothing to do with me”, “This too will pass” or “This is only a small part of my life”. A pessimist may say exactly the same about a good experience! Same incident; different conclusion. It is our job to really listen to how our clients see the world. There is no limit on the amount of times we can say to a client “Tell me more”, in order to facilitate a greater depth of thinking. And, as we know, the quality of thinking depends on the quality of listening. Ron spoke not only about listening to our clients but listening to ourselves. What do we tell ourselves that might limit us from reaching our achievements? Is this self-talk true? What is a strength or value that can help us succeed? What is our next step? Being super sensitive to threat, we are wired to hear our critical voice. Here was a new take on resilience: the ability to role model “stepping beyond our programming”. I was left to connect the dots. Obviously, if we are fostering resilience as practitioners, we are going to be better able to ride the storms, deal with tricky and /or resistant clients, listen better, be more present, model sitting with uncertainty and being comfortable with not knowing. But for me, it was Ron’s last contribution that really resonated. He ended his talk with a reflective exercise and shared discussion on Good Work Great Work. What is your experience of doing Good Work/Great Work? What qualities do you bring? What is your mind-set? When we are doing Great Work, we are doing what truly excites us; the passion is there. Connecting the dots again: passion and purpose are key to resilience. It makes sense.

Wendy Ward,
Resilience and Natural Success Coach






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