Sep 10, 2008

Some thoughts on OD in India

A reader mailed me the following:


Hi Gautam

I am a final year student of MBA, specializing in HR from Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, Pune. I have been keenly following your crisp & precise write-ups on a gamut of HR Topics and find them a refreshing departure(much needed!!) from the tedious, never ending management "gyaan" sessions we students at B-schools are subjected to.
With reference to your thoughts on "What is OD?", could you pls further elaborate specifically on the following issues I've been trying to seek answers to, but for which I could not locate any one single relevant and updated source:

·         Where do you think "OD in India" stands today, i.e. what's the level or status of OD practice in Indian companies in general. Any noticeable patterns or trends wrt specific industries? Are certain interventions more widely used than the others? If so, why? Whats the level of maturity and expertise in India regarding OD?

·         With regards to hiring an external OD facilitator(which you have suggested as the preferred option), are Indian companies increasingly looking at the option of having a full time in-house OD Specialist or is it still largely need based external help?

·         Being one yourself, what according to you are the challenges OD practitioners in India face?

Its my first interaction with you, and I am hopeful of getting a thoughtful and enriching response, as I believe with your background and current positioning in the industry, you'll be able to give the right mix of "facts" and "perspective" for which no formally documented source may exist.
Have a lot many questions and unresolved issues storming my mind everyday, due to the very subjective nature of HR as a discipline. I sincerely hope I'll get timely guidance and answers to at least some of them through willing and accessible sources like you.


I replied:


Thanks for your mail. OD in India is interestingly poised – it differs according to the pedigree and the size and the industry of the organization one considers.


For example, large Indian MNCs that are emerging as global players are actually seeing the need for an internal OD person/group – handling things like Talent Management to Employee Surveys and research


MNC firms usually have a person too, however his/her role is merely to implement global tools in India.


Smaller firms and industries like media/PR/dotcoms are still struggling to grapple with basic HR processes – so OD is merely a name for Training.


My view is that OD practitioners in various organizations are learning on the job, and their own competence and exposure needs to improve to actually unleash the full power of OD for the business benefit of their organizations and people. There are fragmented groups doing their bit but they all use tools and technologies that have roots in 1970s and 1960s.


Hope that helps!