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Member Spotlight: Glen B. Earl, Ph.D.

An Interview with Glen B. Earl, Ph.D. Leadership Development Consultant at Parkland Health and Hospital System

Glen Earl I first met Glen through our work together on the Global OD Competency Survey project at OD Network (where meaningful connections happen!) — he was the project manager. Glen is now leading another team of volunteers as part of the Certification2020 initiative, working with practitioners not only from the US and Canada, but also Saudi Arabia, India, Australia, Singapore and Japan.

For this interview, Glen shares of his own philosophy about OD practice and comments on the pros and cons of OD certification. Glen is a 25-year practitioner of OD. Currently, he is a leadership development consultant employed with the Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, Texas. Among his recent accomplishments is the design and delivery of an OD competency model for the Parkland Hospital System. Glen speaks about his role in this way:

OD practitioners have the opportunity to impact at the individual, team and organizational levels. We help people achieve their aspirations, we help teams leverage their strengths, we help organizations better articulate their visions and missions to connect with the work.

Nurses stay at Parkland because of the acuity of the patients’ conditions. Nurses get the experiential learning within 1-2 years, in an intensive environment, compared to several years in another clinical setting.

When a person is willing to confront the extremes to improve one’s craft, that says something about the nature of that person. We need to know that as OD practitioners in supporting individual’s aspirational work.

In Glen’s OD work, he draws from his strengths in system change perspective where looking at the whole system is key in order to isolate the issue or reorganize the parts to bring about order. When asked to describe himself, Glen replies without missing a beat, “As a practitioner, I am fun, experienced, and I do deep work.” I am immediately intrigued, “What’s deep work?”

Deep work is what I call messy work, when you want to figure out why things don’t work, you have to dig deep to get at the complexity inside an organization. My conception of deep work is about the culture, structure and work processes associated with enterprise-wide organizational issues.

Most organizations throughout the US don’t know enough about OD, they think OD-light, but not OD. OD-light is training, team building, and helping people get along with one another while at work, but OD is about engaging people in their aspirations and how they relate to their job as meaningful and purposeful work.

Where Glen is superior is his ability to figure out complex issues. Glen looks for what he calls “positive deviants.” I am even more intrigued, “What the heck is that?” Glen answers with glee.

Positive deviants are pockets where the performance is significantly better than the average. I use positive deviants to understand what’s working within the environment and translate that into diagnostics for use elsewhere within the organization to ascertain the less than optimal conditions.

Instead of following best practices, work from what appears to be an anomaly. The ‘out of the ordinary’ in fact holds the greatest potential for positive impacts.

Glen firmly believes that OD certification can benefit the employer organizations where third-party credentialing sets apart the practitioners who can do OD from those who claim to be OD practitioners. With certification, there will be a valid and reliable measure of OD practice, and a set of common definitions and language across different sectors and geographical boundaries. Employer organizations can be assured that certified practitioners know the body of knowledge and can apply the organization development principles.

I am taken in by the thought that one day, when we say OD, we mean the ‘same’ thing. One of the gotcha’s of OD certification is the fear, “what if I don’t pass?” Glen suggests:

OD certification is a form of self-development. The assessment provides an independent evaluation of OD behaviors & skills. The Global OD Practice Framework™ is a roadmap for OD competencies — it sets up the pathway for continuous learning.

Degrees are for us, certifications are for them (clients). We must stay current with the practice. It is our field-level obligation. It is our pledge to life-long learning … to make accessible what we know to others.

Glen is not bashful about what he thinks, and he is tenacious when he sets his mind to doing. Ever forward, Glen!

To learn more about Glen,

Interview conducted by Jean Hartmann

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