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O.D. Institute Newsletter
Do We Never Tire of Marketing OD?
Terry R. Armstrong, RODC email@example.com
last month I had two discussions concerning the marketing of
O.D. The first started when a graduate student called
to interview me about how I market or sell my OD services and
the second had to do with a rather lengthy string of electronic
correspondence. The OD Godparents lists serve on the topic
of “Building the Field O.D.”got into the topic of marketing.
The telephone call was from a master’s student writing a paper
and the second was an interesting discussion by some “gray beards”
or “Godparents” in the field. My comments weren’t much
different from what the “Godparents” had to share. In
fact as I read the discussion I felt they had been listening
in on my telephone conversation. Though I enjoyed sharing my
experience about how I got started and marketed my services
I did not feel that my experience or insights were any more
helpful to someone getting started in the field then the comments
by the “Godparents.” It made me realize that we love to
share our stories about how we were initiated into the field
and established our practice, but I am not sure it has much
relevance for those starting out today.
I will spare you my story or what the other “old timers” had
to say because if you have been around awhile you have already
heard it and if you’re trying to get a practice off the ground
today it might just become depressing. Times are different;
the field has morphed into something different from the early
days and business and other organizations aren’t faced with
the same problems. Sure, there is a lot of complaining
about how “bottom line” business has become and that O.D. Practitioners
are selling gimmicks and quick fixes. In the February
2006 issue of this newsletter I wrote about the Socialization
of OD Practitioners that every ten years or so the way practitioners
are socialized into O. D. changes. What I did not adequately
discuss was how marketing for O.D. consultants changes as well.
You could go back and read that newsletter and
make the connection about how one is socialized into the field
and how one markets one’s practice are very similar.
In the early days, 1940s and 50s, people were socialized into
O.D. through NTL and the works of people such as Kurt Lewin,
Eric Trist, Saul Alinski, Ronald Lippitt, Lee Bradford and Kenneth
Benne. At that time, one was mentored by the founders,
and they often passed on a few clients to those they trusted.
During the 1960s many were introduced to the field through social
action projects such as the War on Poverty and the Peace Corps.
I got started with O.D. in the Peace Corps and it was the Peace
Corps that provided me with my first five or six clients.
In the 70s the concern for productivity in industry and Affirmative
Action legislation spurred a demand for people with knowledge
about organizational change. Individuals learned about
the field from their work place and many started an external
practice by getting a contract from their previous employer.
During the 1980s large management and accounting consulting
firms started hiring MBAs and graduates from OD programs but
borrowed and relabeled what had been O.D. into branded proprietary
products. A number of people developing their practices
during this period took clients with them when they left the
consulting firm or become an internal when their gig was finished.
During the 1990s “free market economics” drove organizations
to outsourcing and many employees were “fired” or received severance
packages. Many of these unemployed professionals began
“reinventing themselves” as O. D. Consultants. It was
during the 1990s that I started getting bombarded with marketing
questions. During the 1990s the employment contract was
turned on its head. We began to be “The Free-lance Nation.”
O.D. Consultants began hiring publicist, did mass mailings and
talked to everyone they knew to drum up business. Now
it seems that consultants are putting more effort and money
into marketing then ever before.
For the budding practitioner wanting to get hired as either
an internal or external consultant it’s becoming more and more
difficult. However, this is true for most new master’s
graduates whether they be in communications, marketing, management
or O.D. Careers and entry into those careers have changed.
The paternalistic approaches of the past are gone. It’s
everyone for themselves now. All the reminiscences of
the good old days maybe fun for the “old timers” but people
starting out don’t want to hear it. Besides it isn’t very
helpful if you are tying to get started in O.D. today.
When I look at the request for O.D. Practitioners coming into
the Organization Development Institute I notice that most of
them are for senior people. Entry-level positions seem to be
few and far between. This hardly seems fair, but I guess
it can be expected. If you have ten years of high quality
O.D. experience you re not going to find it difficult to get
business. If you are a recent graduate it is going to
be tough. I would suggest you get internships and other
non-paying experience while still in school. I would also
suggest you start going to conferences and publishing.
You are going to have to start marketing yourself before you
graduate. I would advise you attend one of the Organization
Development Institute's Conferences and send me stuff to be
published in this newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org as well as
other O.D. outlets. Below you will find another good place
to get started. To sell yourself in this market you have
to get started early!
Practicing-An On-line OD Network Magazine, Dr.
David W. Jamieson, Editor email@example.com
Practicing seeks short articles advancing the
knowledge of OD practice… what we know from
the experience of practitioners in the OD field.
We all learn from experience, but rarely capture that learning
in useable knowledge for others. Enhancing the quality
of OD practice requires thoughtful reflection
on practice, codifying what we know and building the
practice knowledge base throughout the OD community.
Emphasis will be placed on useable knowledge…
what others can take away and use in their practice. Practicing
provides an opportunity for you to share what you feel
good about in your work, your reflections on experience and
what you know that others can learn from and use. Possibilities
include (but are not limited to): practical descriptions
of concepts, methods, processes, interventions, tools, tips
and guidelines that regularly work; ways to effectively handle
recurring situations; proven consultation principles and practices;
innovative, cutting-edge methods or designs, and thought-provoking
essays on practice-related challenges. Visit Practicing
Short (800-1000 words), practical articles written in simple,
direct conversational language. Bulleted lists, limited graphics
and short sections with subheads help the ease-of-reading and
accessibility of content with lower word counts. Include a short
(50 word) author bio. Submit Microsoft Word electronic copies
only to: firstname.lastname@example.org Include your name, US mail
address, phone and fax numbers and email address.