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Organizational Development English Library

O.D. Institute Newsletter

 March 2005

 

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 our effectiveness. 

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 to excellence.”

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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