Was Lost Until I Found OD (Was blind but now I see.)

We recognize that Mick said ‘You can’t always get what you want.’ But how do you try? My experience with OD (Organizational Dynamics) provided both a comprehensive tool set and a platform to learn and grow for the future. While we can’t avoid some disappointment, through applied learning of OD we can maximize the results we seek. Professor John Eldred in his Power and Politics (in organizations) class confirmed that “At the end of even very successful negotiations, both parties may remain slightly unhappy.” This may not be the result you expected but one must deal with reality.

I have considered myself a lifelong learner but prior to OD my thinking was not organized let alone sophisticated. My 1973 BBA certainly helped but in the year 2000 my clients included billion dollar plus companies. I had been through more ‘S’ curves than your typical snake, having to re-invent myself in the apparel business where when I started 97% of apparel was made in the USA. Today that figure is 3% and I chose to survive in the industry. While I did learn much about large organizations and how they functioned, the real value of my OD experience was learning about myself and my own company. How could I possibly keep pace with the changes in world trade and continue to re-formulate my business to assure profitability? I managed to take one course per semester as I ran my business full time and was delighted to complete the program and graduate in 2005.

Organizational Dynamics provided a booster rocket to my learning. I loved everything I read especially the case studies of those entrepreneurs who proceeded me with their own failures and successes.  All the while the classroom seminar format provided the emotional comfort to learn from the professor and fellow students, all of whom had great and valuable life and work experiences to share. The agreed confidentiality enabled the secure leaning environment where personal experiences were revealed. While changing nature and human behavior is difficult, OD provided an educational experience so that I was able to become more effective and less frustrated.

Let’s be clear there is little chance of deriving benefit without the effort of work.  Being naturally impatient, I accepted changing my habit when I was taught that “the presenting problem is not typically the underlying issue.”  Without the benefit of an accurate diagnosis, the proper cure will remain elusive. This applies whether in medicine or in consulting. With OD I was trained to be a more astute diagnostician. This concept applies in both business and personal relationships and has enhanced my capability to achieve desired results. We learned to be skeptical until we could assure that the course of action taken would be confirmed by tests of validity and reliability. I am guided by a personal philosophy that what is important is the person you become in pursuit what you want. Dynamics shined a light on the options for the person I wanted to become. Without my courses a major part of my life would be missing and I would have continued to experience major frustration as I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Dynamics opened the door by revealing that we are guided by the stories or myths we tell ourselves and others. Professor Janet Greco taught us that  in order “to change the course of your life you need to change your story.”

You have heard that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Humans are not dogs and education is not a trick. I have pondered that Plato said ‘a person could not step into the same stream twice.’ That certainly made sense as the flowing water was never the same. What took me years to realize is that it is also not the same person stepping into that stream. Give yourself the best opportunity to become all you can become and continue growing. This is not a dress rehearsal. What stories will you be telling in the future?

– Joseph B. Greco