Joelle Asaro Berman is a community-builder, nonprofit professional, and food lover. She's the incoming Program Director for Amplifier, a platform for Jewish giving circles. And, she helps run the Brooklyn Bridge community-supported agriculture project.
Three days ago, I walked into a classroom at NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies expecting to find lots of nonprofit professionals ready to tackle the challenges of Organizational Development (OD). After brief introductions, I found I was instead surrounded by consultants, longtime corporate professionals, and entrepreneurs. Amex, Breitling, Coach, Ernst & Young, Univision...and me.
How did I get here? After spending upwards of a year being tasked with projects that related to my organization's processes, learning, and overall health, I realized that a growing piece of my portfolio laddered up to the world of OD. I soon applied for a Micro Grant that would enable me to take the Introduction to Organization Development class at NYU, in the hopes that I would learn the language and foundational concepts of this body of work. Not only did I gain a clear understanding of the OD Process Model—a framework for understanding the clear, necessary steps of organizational improvement—but also for the true work of OD: ongoing, planned interventions that use a humanistic approach to redefine organizational culture and improve organizational effectiveness. In other words, it's about the people. As in life, productive relationships between colleagues, managers, teams, departments, and entire companies are the key to their success.
When relationships fail, organizations fail. Simple as that. I now have a packed-to-the-gills toolkit of interventions that I can deploy that will help strengthen both my relationships with colleagues, and the relationships among my colleagues. I know how to assess particular challenges to understand which intervention is appropriate. And, I now have access to an amazing network of individuals (my classmates)—seasoned practitioners and fellow learners—who will enable me to grow further as we practice this work in our careers moving forward. And, a note to all of you nonprofit professionals out there: An OD class is worth its weight in gold. All of our organizations can benefit from OD knowledge at all levels; it will make us healthier, more successful, and more efficient.