By |Published On: October 11th, 2023|Categories: Organization Development and Leadership, University Communications|

Organization development (OD) is a field that was founded on humanistic values, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and support within a community of practitioners. This sense of community is not just about sharing knowledge but also about nurturing each other’s growth. In line with these principles, the Master’s in Organization Development and Leadership (MA-ODL) program has initiated the Fielding Organization Development Network—a series of meetings to foster a community of practitioners. Previous gatherings have focused on various topics, including value-based contracting, consulting rates, innovative processes like the “Kaleidoscope,” the intersection of artificial intelligence and OD, and strategies for establishing a consulting practice.

In this post, we’ll delve into the concept of Dialogic OD, a transformative approach to OD that stands in contrast to the more traditional diagnostic mindset. We’ll explore the upcoming meeting featuring Tova Averbuch, a distinguished Dialogic OD practitioner, and author of “Initiating and Inviting Generative Change.”

Understanding Dialogic OD

Dialogic OD, a term coined by Gervase Bushe and Robert Marshak in 2009, represents a significant shift in the practice of OD. This approach is rooted in a mindset that differs markedly from the diagnostic approach. Where the diagnostic mindset is influenced by classical science, positivism, and modernist philosophy, the dialogic mindset draws inspiration from social constructionism and postmodern philosophy. These distinct mindsets lead to fundamentally different approaches to how OD is practiced.

The Dialogic OD mindset sees organizations as complex social systems where organizational change emerges through changes in meaning and interaction among stakeholders. It acknowledges the co-creation of reality and embraces uncertainty and ambiguity as inherent in the change process. In contrast, the diagnostic mindset seeks to identify and solve problems based on objective analysis and predetermined plans.

Tova Averbuch’s Contribution

Tova Averbuch

Tova Averbuch

Tova Averbuch, a seasoned practitioner in Dialogic OD, offers valuable insights into this transformative approach in her book, “Initiating and Inviting Generative Change.” Tova addresses the fundamental question in her work: “What needs to be done differently, from the start, if I want to work dialogically?” She explores the mindset shift required to embrace Dialogic OD fully.

One of the standout features of Tova’s work is her “swirling spiral model of emergent change.” This model resonates with practitioners seeking a more emergent approach to change instead of traditional change management with detailed, linear plans. The swirling spiral model highlights the fluidity of change processes, emphasizing emergence and adaptation over rigid pre-determined plans.

A Different Approach to Learning

The upcoming meeting featuring Tova Averbuch is an exciting opportunity for OD practitioners to engage with a leading expert in Dialogic OD. What sets this event apart is the intention to create a genuinely dialogic learning experience.

In the spirit of a dialogic mindset, the conversation with Tova Averbuch will be unique. Instead of pre-planning a specific agenda, the session will begin with gathering participants’ questions, curiosities, and conundrums. This collaborative approach empowers attendees to help design the learning process together. Questions can be shared in advance, enabling Tova to address the specific needs and interests of the community. Even those unable to attend the live session can contribute by sharing questions for later consideration.

The Fielding Organization Development Network exemplifies the commitment to building a thriving community of OD practitioners. It serves as a hub for learning, sharing, and mutual support, fostering growth and innovation in the field. The upcoming conversation with Tova Averbuch promises to be a valuable experience, shedding light on the profound differences between diagnostic and dialogic OD and offering actionable insights for those seeking to positively impact organizations and the people within them. Embracing a dialogic mindset may be the key to unlocking new possibilities in Organization Development.

Tova is this month’s featured speaker in the OD Network Series on Tuesday, October 31, at 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm PDT / 5:00 – 6:30 pm PDT / 6:00 – 7:30 pm CDT / 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT. For registration and more information, click here.

If you would like to join our growing Fielding OD Network or would like to know more about our next meeting with Tova Averbuch, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Keith Ray, Program Director of MA-ODL, at

About the Author: Fielding News

Stories about people, issues, research, and innovation across the Fielding global community as reported by the Fielding News Team.

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