An OD student recently asked about favorite OD models on a social media site. Here, with a pinch of pepper, is my reply:
I appreciate Edwin Friedman for putting leadership into a systems perspective. It’s not a visual model. It’s a way of thinking which includes the following core concepts (but is not limited to): self-differentiation (the capacity to distinguish between self and other, thinking and feeling, and past and present) and self-differentiated leadership (the capacity to take clear stands, stay connected, and manage emotional sabotage), homeostasis, emotional fields, triangulation, over-functioning and under-functioning, the tendency of systems to get organized around the least mature members, problems of symptoms of the system, the five characteristics of chronically anxious systems (reactivity, displaced blame, herding, quick fix mentality, and lack of self-differentiated leadership).
As a colleague mentioned in reply to this question, being stuck on one or two “models” would be a mistake. On the other hand (I often disagree with myself lol), one could probably be very effective in most situations if they mastered one or two, just like most organizations if they stuck with one or two “solutions” and mastered them (TQM for example), would probably get great, reliable and consistent results). Alas, most organizations and the OD profession in general are caught up in Friedman’s quick fix mentality.
Nonetheless, integrating various models and applying situationally makes more sense to me and tickles my fancy more as well. I love cross-disciplinary thinking a la Kurt Lewin (and my father, Robert P. Crosby) and I love integrating models. So, besides Friedman, models I love and integrate together include:
The Interpersonal Gap by John Wallen
Sponsor Agent Target Advocate by Daryl Conner (as adapted by dad)
Action research by Kurt Lewin (as adapted by dad)
T-groups by Kurt Lewin (as adapted by dad)
Planned Change by Kurt Lewin (as adapted by dad)
Emotional Intelligence as popularized by Daniel Goleman
Decision Making Continuum by Tannenbaum and Schmidt (as adapted by dad)
Along with the fields of:
…from whence comes a tasty OD soup.