After reading an intriguing and slightly disturbing article, Silicon Valley an army of geeks and ‘coders’ shaping our future in the Observer a couple of weeks ago I was left wondering if there is such a thing as an OD Geek? By Geek I mean someone who is inspired to work, often on their own, for long hours, with great intensity, working out solutions to organisation problems and making money along the way?
As I read the article a couple of things leapt out at me, firstly: “The phrase you hear everywhere is innovate or die.” I don’t think I have ever heard this kind of imperative within the OD world. Have you? The second bit that leapt out was:
“…And an army of… coders…who are progressively recasting the human environment in their own image, forcing the rest of us to adapt to this radically reconfigured landscape in the only way possible: by becoming … more … like … them”
This got me wondering if there are any OD practitioners working in Silicon Valley, or other ‘Silicon’ places around the world, who are supporting and enabling this? I know that many of the established High Tech organisations mentioned in the article have very good OD teams – during my time with Nokia I met many of these people both in California and elsewhere. I just wonder if there are any OD people working more generally and probably, as freelance consultants, with the much smaller startups and or helping individual geeks and entrepreneurs with things like business ideation or thinking through how to develop the kind of organisation that will help carry their ideas to fruition? Again if anyone has any experience of this, it would be great if you could share them with us. I would be curious to know what it’s like working with them, how did you gain entry and what kinds of issues do you find yourself working on?
I know from my research with Dee Ortner exploring the relationship between Entrepreneurs and HR/OD, that gaining entry in the start up space for OD practitioners is very difficult. I am assuming this is also true when working with Geeks. We found that this was for many reasons, that can best be summarised as entrepreneurs not understanding the value add of OD or HR and their being unwilling to spend money on something they believe they can get from friends and family. My guess is this will hold true for geeks as well. I believe that we OD practitioners have to take some responsibility for this. I don’t think we have been very good at showing how we can make a difference in this space and developing pricing models that make it a good deal for both the entrepreneur as well as the practitioner.
It would be really good to hear your thoughts an ideas about both working with geeks and what your thoughts are on becoming and OD Geek!
Now for bit of news:
As well as continuing to run Edgelands Consultancy I have gone into business with two very good friends and former work colleagues from my time in Local Government, Carole Grimwood and Alan Warner. We have formed a new business called Albany OD Do take a look at our website. I will be cross posting my blogs to the website from now on.