.. crossword puzzles present a good metaphor for the work we do as OD practitioners. We look for clues that will bring together the people in organizations who need to be connected.”

rossword puzzles present a good metaphor for the work we do as OD practitioners. We look for clues that will bring together the people in organizations who need to be connected.”

By Eric J. Sanders and W. Warner Burke

This article extends the celebration of  two anniversaries: 50 years of building a  community of organization development  practitioners by the Organization Develop- ment Network (ODN) and 100 years for  the crossword puzzle (Chaneski & Kagan,  2013). There is a connection between these  two events, as what we do as OD practitio- ners is bring people from different parts  of the organizations we serve together, just  like the clues in a crossword puzzle.

Making connections is indeed how  the idea of this article came about. The  authors are the first Executive Director  of ODN, Warner Burke, and one of the  present ODN Regional Connectors, Eric  Sanders. We first met at Benedictine  University  several years ago, and had the  pleasure of talking a bit more in Novem- ber 2013, as Burke visited Benedictine  again and  Sanders provided transporta- tion from Burke’s hotel to the campus.  When I (Sanders) picked Burke up the  first evening, he was sitting in the hotel  lounge, sipping a martini and working on  a crossword puzzle. He said that was his  usual way of relaxing at the end of the day  and we chatted for a few minutes, and then  went to the university. Later it occurred to  us that crossword puzzles present a good  metaphor for the work we do as OD prac- titioners. We look for clues that will bring  together the people in organizations who  need to be connected. In that light, let’s  examine our work.

1 ACROSS. Individuals who join things together through intervention: C O N N E C T O R S

In an interview on NPR, Shane Mueller, a  psychologist at Michigan Tech, talked about  research he did regarding the mental func- tions used when people solve a crossword  puzzle (Cole, 2013). The key to success was  not vocabulary or seeing patterns, although  both of those skills are clearly useful.  The key was the ability to make decisions  quickly. The best crossword solvers can see  what the outcomes of a decision might be,  choose a path, and follow it.

Ultimately, what we do in OD is much  like that. We hold diagnostic sessions  with our clients, jointly make decisions  about how we might best help them  help themselves, mutually carry out the  agreed-upon actions, and then evaluate the  results. Generally a large part of whatever  intervention we offer includes facilitating  conversations—making connections— between individuals and/or groups. These  are people who work together and ought to  be speaking with each other, but frequently  do not. In a recent project, a client of mine  (Sanders) observed that one of the key  values I added was serving as a liaison  between the business people and the  technical people in the organization. Part  of that work was simply rearranging the  conference room during a meeting so that

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