Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Productive Workplaces: Dignity, Meaning and Community in the 21st Century

In my opinion this is the best book on organisation development. You can read more about it here:


This is the3rd and 25th Anniversary edition. Do get a copy!

And I must declare an interest - I'm on p334 telling my story about how I came across the book:

I Already Had Huge Misgivings About Traditional Consultancy…

In the early 1990’s I was just starting out as an OD consultant. I read widely, trying to find the essence of what being an excellent OD practitioner meant. Books by Schein, Bennis and Beckhard helped. And then I stumbled across Productive Workplaces in a bookshop in my home city of Oxford. The book had the same affect on my brain as space dust sherbet has on my tongue. There was almost an audible pop in my brain when I came to the chapter on whole systems working. I must have read a quarter of the book sitting on the floor before I went to purchase it.

I contacted Marvin for more information about Future Search, and he sent me a draft of the first few chapters of his forthcoming book with Sandra Janoff. The idea that my role was to assist whole systems find or rediscover their own way forward was utterly compelling. I already had huge misgivings about more “traditional” consultancy models which sought to do change to an organization (or system) rather than work with the people involved. Marv’s book helped me know that I was part of a growing community of people who believed this too.

Productive Workplaces continues to influence my practice as a leadership coach and tutor, change facilitator and (now) blogger. Moreover, there is nothing I value or enjoy more than working with a client to implement a “whole system in the room” approach to organizational development. I have used ideas and practices from PW many times to tackle such issues as reducing gun & knife crime in the UK, the development of women within a large public service organization and assisting an association of psychotherapists renew their voluntary association.

Recently, I designed and facilitated a process to help integrate a range of professional agencies who are about to move into a single building. The client wanted to make sure that the co-location was not just physical but also resulted in some significant partnership building and streamlined inter agency processes. The agenda I developed for them was centered upon the idea of helping a system improve itself.

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