Organization Development Network of Western New York

Meeting Notes: Starting, Growing and Maintaining your OD Consulting Practice

Posted in Meeting Notes by Michael Cardus on April 13, 2009

ODN of WNY Meeting Notes

Starting, Growing and Maintaining your OD Consulting Practice

April 2, 2009


Participating: Sandy Budmark, Denny Gallagher, Phil Hahn, Donna Hartney, Kate Kane, Marti Kaplan, Nancy Lynch, Brian Pettit, Christine Rodriguez, Christina Schweitzer, Siobhan Smith


Using the questions that members had submitted about their practice of OD, five subcategories for discussion were developed.  They are:





Client Relationships

Life Cycle


We worked in subgroups and whole group discussion, and began conversations to share what we each knew, resources to support our practice, and what we wanted to know more about. 


The Strategy discussion included making the business case, awareness/education for client expectations, avoiding burnout (don’t take it personally), honoring where the client is now (vs. the deficit approach), being the organizational jester (saying the unthinkable), having the client hire someone half time to do the internal OD work (if there isn’t an OD function already), the impact of the economy, and OD vs. Training.  Resource:

Dana Gaines Robinson’s book, Performance Consulting: A Practical Guide for HR and Learning Professionals is a nice model to help you start where the client is.


The Client Relationships conversation dove into how to stay in contact with past clients (FYI emails, social networking, lunches, connecting on a personal level, connecting at professional meetings, follow up on status of past projects, building a referral network, and building a network of resources, such as lawyers to call if your client has legal questions).  The conversation also addressed moving from a “one night stand” to a lasting relationship and considered free consulting, informational phone calls, noticing and suggesting, talking about the context of the ‘one night stand’ (discussing what came before and will come after) to put your work within a larger perspective, suggesting alternatives to the ‘one night stand’ in the diagnosis and /or contracting phase, not being afraid of moving from the original idea, and suggesting other resources when you know you’re not the best person for the work.  Resource:

Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development With Nonprofits: A Collaborative and Systems Approach to Performance, Change and Learning by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Partner, Authenticity Consulting


The Marketing conversation covered how externals market, how internals make buying decisions, and the need for internal consultants to market their services internally.  A few of us don’t market directly, and have had successful careers solely through word of mouth.  Marketing tactics included writing articles for trade associations, joining the Chamber of Commerce, community involvement (such as the United Way pro bono consulting cohort that some of us are involved with), Board or other volunteer work in one’s professional associations, becoming a member of NTL,  websites (so you can pop up on Google searches, and to refer potential new clients to), planning for ups and downs, join a TIP group, BNI, be a contribution (wherever you are, whatever you’re doing), offer free seminars, teach college classes (at the graduate level), seek business/industry and professional certifications, share the passion that folks in the organization have for what they do, writing a book/publishing an article/sending press releases/publish in trade journals, being interviewed for articles that others are writing, presenting at conferences, and managing your image.  Specifically to internal marketing: be a business partner, link your work to corporate goals, and have advocates who know your interests and capabilities (and can keep an eye out).  Internals tend to look for an organizational fit when using outside resources.  




Robert Middleton and his approach to marketing:   

Software you can use to develop your own website: CMS Made Simple: .  Page design can be more complex, if preferred (Marti doesn’t).  She used this software, with minimal help from a web developer: . 

Some OD-oriented websites include:,,,,,,,


Not all topics were addressed in the time available.  We felt that the discussions could have gone further, and more resources would have been a benefit.  A proposal will be made to the planning committee to address this topic in greater depth multiple times next year.


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