That compensation initiatives are probably an organization’s strongest lever of enterprise-wide change will not come as a surprise if you’ve read my previous Musings. I have mentioned this numerous times, in numerous ways. Yet what may surprise you is my twist on this particular post. OD has large-group methods that also have the ability to reach a broad audience. I agree with Dr. Lawler that, “many of the traditional interventions that organization development specialists use impact on only small groups of employees.” Yet there are also many methods and forums used by OD practitioners to bring about successful large-scale change.
World Café, Appreciative Inquiry, Future Search, and Open Space Technology are just four of many large-group methods to bring together geographically, divisionally, and/or intellectually disparate voices for the purpose of improving the collective dialog, ensuring the right voices are being represented and heard, and both broadening and deepening the reach of joint ownership, accountability, and buy-in. I experienced the power of Appreciative Inquiry two months ago in Costa Rica, and saw how quickly five organizations and approximately sixty people representing at least ten ethnicities came together and agreed upon the top themes for what is necessary to build community in their region. It was breathtaking.
"While compensation is undoubtedly one of the largest levers of organization-wide change, it is important to not lose sight of the great tools OD has to help implement these large-scale changes."
Case in Point: On one of my less-than-shining moments some moons ago, I reluctantly agreed to revamp the domestic U.S. salary structure with the request to “keep it off the managers’ desks.” Everyone was inordinately busy and the directive from the CEO was to keep everything ‘administrative’ away from management; the project to upgrade the salary infrastructure was deemed 'administrative'. Whether they realized it or not, I had the attention of 70% of the population: decisions we made could result in a red circle, an increase in pay, a change in exemption status, or greater or lesser opportunity to financially progress just to name a few.
Cut to the Chase: Had I known about one of these large-group methods of change at the time, I could have partnered with OD to build a rich, 'non-administrative' dialog with a large group of leaders around the U.S. about what the organization needed relative to the pay structure ("what did we hire it to do?"), what the obstacles were to being able to attract and retain talent with regard to salary, and other strategic and philosophical topics. It might have taken two days of managers’ time on the front end (this obviously excludes what can be months of set-up behind the scenes), yet I am convinced collectively and methodically gaining their insights – and they from each other - would have saved weeks' if not months' worth of questions, confusion, and disruption on the back end.
While compensation is undoubtedly one of the largest levers of organization-wide change, it is important to not lose sight of the great tools OD has to help implement these large-scale changes. There are times when I’m guessing Compensation professionals have lost sight of the power at their fingertips. I know on occasion I did, and I only wish I had then known about methods like Open Space and Future Search to gain the important broad-reach collective buy-in for greater success.
I wonder how familiar most Compensation professionals are with this type of 'large-group intervention'. (I know I wasn't until I entered the Pepperdine MSOD program.) I'm also curious as to the possibilities people can see in using some of these methods to more successfully implement broadbased compensation changes. Thoughts?