Best-practice interventions in the field of organization transformation


In this section, we want to feature best-practice interventions currently being used by coaches, consultants, and senior executives who are either leading or supporting Organizational Transformation (OT) efforts. We also want to highlight best-practice interventions that will help you understand how to think about organization transformation in ways that will help you learn how to successfully implement high quality organization transformation interventions within your organizations. 

For the past several months, we've been reading OT ads, case studies, books, and articles online and offline, and talking with colleagues searching for best-practice interventions we could highlight. We discovered a number of interesting interventions that initially seemed like they would be worth profiling. 

However, upon closer examination, it turns out that what we thought were interesting OT interventions in fact were OT interventions that were being implemented in various organizations without the support of a clearly articulated theoretical foundation to explain what was being done, and/or why or how these interventions were going to create the transformational results they were aiming for. 

In 1986, Amir Levy and Uri Merry described the organization transformation field this way;  "...there has not been, as yet, any comprehensive publication covering the field..." In light of what we've discovered in the last few months, we've been thinking a lot about what Levy and Merry said 30 years ago. We looked hard for best-practice interventions that matched good theory with interventions that promised good results. But what we found seems to suggest that Levy and Merry are still right: There currently is no one authoritative theoretical statement available anywhere about what OT is, or ought to be. At least, any one theory that most OT practitioners say they're using as the explicit framework for their coaching and consulting.

Basic Questions 

So, right now, we're asking ourselves three basic questions: 

  • Is it possible that today organization transformation is an 'a-theoretical' field of practice?

  • Is it possible that there aren't any best-practice interventions to profile?

  • Is it possible that, without an authoritative conceptual model, there may be no best-practice interventions worth profiling?

We think this might be the case. Especially if we define “best practice” to mean there is general agreement amongst all of this field’s best OT experts

When we evaluate the “best practices” using this criteria, what we find isn’t general agreement. What we find is that the world’s biggest, most successful consulting houses each have their own OT definitions and their own best practices. So, in this situation, we think it would be presumptuous for us to highlight any one intervention here as a best practice option for the entire OT field.  Whether an intervention is one being implemented by a solo OT coach or consultant, or it is one that’s being implemented by on of the world’s major consulting firms, we believe there can't be best practice interventions to profile if no authoritative sense of agreement is available in the field about what OT is or should be.   

So, we're stepping back. We'll continue to think through the questions we're asking. They're too important to let them go. But, for now, we've decided not to profile any Best-Practice Interventions. Your observations, comments, and questions are welcome.