Organizational Development and the MD Analogy

An OD professional is like an M.D. (medical doctor) in many ways. Consider the following scenario:

Have you ever gone to the doctor, walked in and said, “I have a sinus infection,” or something to that effect? You have essentially gone to the specialist having diagnosed yourself and expect that specialist to become “Dr. Fix-It.”

Many clients approach OD professionals in this way, but just as an M.D. would confirm that the self diagnosis is correct before prescribing any medications, so should the OD consultant. Like any good professional, you’d ask questions – when did you first start to feel unwell? This is a critical question for the company, as well.

Once the client (patient) and consultant (doctor) trust each other, the real healing can begin. The first step is to diagnose the real problem. What are the symptoms? How long have they been apparent? What have you tried? Be sure to ask similar questions in your early client meetings.

Then, plan and test to make sure you’ve narrowed down the root of the problem. Interview managers, survey employees, and hold focus groups. The doctor has a whole lab at his/her disposal, and the OD consultant has a full toolbox of diagnostic tools at his/her disposal, as well.

You may find that the problem is more serious than a sinus infection, for example, or that the problem is not in the sinuses at all! Companies must face the prospect that they’ve misdiagnosed themselves and the problems within the organization.

Once you are sure of the diagnosis then it’s time to treat. Using interventions at the individual, small group, and corporate levels, OD consultants can begin to prescribe treatment and generate action plans to help with effective implementation.

To follow up on the success of the treatment, check back, as a doctor would recommend, in “two weeks.” Is the company staying on its plan? Has the leadership team learned to spot trouble and prevent the problems from reoccurring? Many of us skip this step with the doctor when we’re feeling better. Companies are no different, but any specialist will tell you that feedback and renewal are critical to health. After all, we’re seeking a healthy organization that functions at its highest capability.