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O.D. Institute Newsletter
OD Practitioner, Manage Yourself
Terry R. Armstrong RODC
Success in OD comes to those who know and
mange themselves. An article, Managing Oneself,
by Peter Drucker and published in the Harvard Business Review
sums up my feelings about the necessity of self-management for
OD practitioners. Drucker argues that most people think
they know what they are good at but that they are usually wrong.
He also argues that people can only build on their strengths
and therefore self-knowledge is critical if a person is to grow.
I believe this is especially true for OD Practitioners.
Drucker argues that self-management is essential if we are to
know ourselves. He also argues that getting good feed-
by an obscure theologian back and analyzing it is nothing new.
He claims that “feedback analyses” was invented in the fourteenth
century and picked up independently some 150 years later by
John Calvin and Ignatius of Loyola. Drucker claims that
Calvin and Ignatius incorporated into the practice of their
followers a steadfast focus on performance and results.
Practiced with religious dedication this simple method of obtaining
feedback on performance and results produced the Calvinist church
and the Jesuit order. He might as well have said that
it was a similar method, MBO, which built General Motors.
The method shows us what we are doing or failing to do and at
what we are not particularly competent. Once you know
what your strengths are, work on improving them.
Feedback and analysis of the feedback also shows gaps in knowledge
which need to be filled and it also can humble us in areas where
our pride has lead us astray. For Ducker, it is equally
essential to correct our bad habits and poor manners which inhibit
Comparing expectations with results indicates what we should
do and not do. A person should waste as little energy
as possible on improving areas in which one has little or no
talent; yet, most teacher and organizations concentrate on incompetence
instead of making a competent person an excellent performer.
He says, and I quote, “It takes far more energy to improve from
incompetence to mediocrity than to improve from first-rate performance
According to Drucker, “amazing few people know how they get
things done.” I have found that in business many people
are working at things they are not good at – this also seems
to be true in non-profits as well. For knowledge workers
such as OD Practitioners this can be deadly. For
creatives of all types, working against the grain or performing
in areas that are not natural is destructive. Just as
we achieve by working at what we are good at, working with our
style rather than against it produces results with reduced effort
and strain. There are many tests that help to assess personality,
but by simply getting feedback on results and reflecting on
our performance we can learn all we need to learn in this area.
Why not take Drucker’s lead and do some “feedback analysis”
on your performance? Get to know yourself a little better.
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