The many roles that an OD practitioner may fill in serving clients are expressions of consulting processes. When a client has identified needs around which they commission the help of an OD practitioner, the practitioner, whether from an internal or an external position, will be using their consulting competence to serve the needs of the client, always with a view to helping the client identify and address their own challenges. This will involve engaging the client and other relevant parties through a just in time education and appropriate change processes, enabling the client to achieve their desired outcomes.
This consulting process involves intellectual capability, technical knowledge, savviness in working with the various steps of the consulting processes, as well as exercising the people and group skills needed to manage multiple stakeholders. In another words, it requires the OD practitioner to operate at multiple levels of client systems—the individuals and groups of the organisation in its whole and parts, as well as the ‘greater whole’ in which all of these are a part; bringing to all of this the OD practitioner’s own self-awareness—their ability to leverage their own power and influence while upping the capability of the system(s), staying conscious of the potential of power entrapment. This requires skilful management of the various aspects of an OD client relationship, the practitioner’s relationships with others as well as with their own self. Their understanding and flexible application of the consultancy cycle—including contracting, diagnosis (and dialogue), data collection and analysis, intervention design and execution, and evaluation will be critical to shape the outcome of the client engagement.
Experienced by clients
Practitioners with consulting competence are experienced as trustworthy and skilful guides who provide support and wisdom at every stage of the consulting relationship. They are partners or journey mates who come alongside, whose OD expertise does not overpower or diminish the client, but rather empowers and enables. They are able to use their expertise in a discerning manner, sensitive to the capacity and capability of the client system. As the context and situation may demand, these OD practitioners are experienced as wise diagnosticians, careful researchers, effective facilitators, attentive coaches, and honest counsellors. Often this will involve supporting a client through the experience of revealing themselves to themselves, trusting that the client will have sufficient wisdom, given the right conditions, to solve their own problems in a sustainable way.
What the competence ‘looks like’
The characteristics and qualities noted below are not intended to be exhaustive or definitive. Nor are they in any particular order. Nor are the distinctions between ‘Knowledge’, ‘Skills/Abilities’ and ‘Character/Attitude’ hard and fast—rather they are heuristic categories with obviously overlapping edges. The intention is merely to provide a frame of reference for considering important elements of the OD Consultancy Processes Competence.