This week I had two occasions to give back a little to my career peer community. The first was on a panel for those finishing a Masters program in OD, the second for those entering- both at my alma mater the University of San Francisco (USF).
The theoretical discussion (or “lecture” as it often is with academics- do they not know about listening? enter a little disillusionment) balanced against the very practical questions from those getting ready to practice and those wanting to learn how, has me disillusioned. In a wonderful way of course, it is Wednesday.
The students soon to be and soon to be released back into the world, asked questions that required application. As I listened to the academic answers, formulated my own and thought back on my version of this program, I realized what an experienced practitioner can bring to a conversation (let alone a thorny OD problem).
The academic answers in a disillusionary way (not to me, to the students- I could see it in their eyes) provided nothing in the way of solutions. In fact when multiple “methodologies” were part of answers it felt a little like a try-this approach (nothing wonderful about that).
I had an epiphany.
Which of course was wonderful as all epiphanies are.
It is the APPLICATION of methodology/theory that is important. As I told one of the students privately afterwards (you’re welcome USF for reeling them back in after you scared ’em off a little), this is about what you learn, all of it, some of it and pieces of it, so that when you apply you know why. And, I said, “you may very well do things completely different than you learn here”. Having a basis in theory and an understanding of history means you can trust your intuition.
Two sessions of interaction at the academic level has me disillusioned at the outdated approach and the pedantic explanations. Learning often has a teacher and a student. I walked away from those two sessions with a new appreciation of OD and change at the individual level.
There is a hunger. A hunger for application, result and effect. For that I am Wonderfully Disillusioned.
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