[this blog entry describes the work of a organization developer with her clients and their companies]

Christa Weßel (2016) clocks


We can not not develop.

This sentence is inspired by Paul Watzlawicks first axiom of communication theory "we can not not communicate". 

Inducement and Topics

As consultant I companion you and your company during change. Changes like strategy formation and reframing, business formation and succession, cooperation, team building and development plus dealing with external changes, including economical and social changes a pandemia can induce. The companies and other organizations I work with are from different areas, for instance information technology, financial services provider, craftsmanship (electrical and machine engineering), media, arts plus institutions in health care and higher education. My work with you is based on organization development: see below for some background.


Scope, Duration and Methods

Consulting and advice means, that the other can decide. As advisor I support you, the client, during the realization of a undertaking. You make the decision. This means, that I contribute my professional expertise and support you in describing and achieving your goals. Of course I observe confidentiality. Milestones during our cooperation are

  • phone call or e-mail to arrange the fist dialogue: contact
  • first dialogue: topic, clarification of the mandate, purpose, approach, professional fee
  • counseling on-site, for instance as Walk & Talk and during retreats
  • report
  • final dialogue with evaluation and outlook

The following three approaches and methods are widely used: Walk & Talk; Retreat and Appreciative Inquiry. 


Walk & Talk

A Walk & Talk is a means for the analysis of an organization. It is used for instance during the analysis of a company, feasibility studies, process improvements or product developments. In an offer I describe a Walk & Talk as follows:



Each question ist an intervention. 


Thus the visit of the external advisor will serve several purposes. The advisor becomes acquainted with the company. She produces an analysis based upon this exploration and offers recommendations. The report is adressed to the CEO.

The advisor's questions and her "new" look on the company will cause processes of change in the thinking and habits of both the CEO and the staff. In addition the CEO and the staff can decide whether they want to continue the cooperation with the advisor.

This getting acquainted takes place as a two-days "Walk and Talk" inhouse. You can find a comprehensive description in the book Entdecken [explore], 2017, p. 156 ff. The procedure includes the following steps.




Changing views


During a retreat members of the management board work onetime or regularly on questions and ideas for strategy formation and other topics. In my role as an external adviser I moderate the retreat, support you on your work and offer recommendations.


Since centuries monks, shamans and other believers retreat form their daily life to reflect on their view of life and especially to strengthen their spirit, their soul and their body. They strive for gaining new insights, developing new ideas and they  make decisions. Reflexion, musing is a central part of a retreat. Scientists and explorers adopted retreats to reflect and work together on theories, concepts and methods. Sometimes they even produce papers and books during a retreat. Finally retreats found their way into companies and other organizations. Management boards and panels of experts retire from the world for a few days to reflect their work so far and sketch future steps.

Beside thinking and talking other activities are characteristic for retreats. The social activities include sports, walks and enjoying or even performing arts, like music or painting. The entering of a new environment is a change of perspective that induces creativity and understanding.

(translated from the book Werkzeuge [tools], 2017, p. 56 ff)


A retreat lasts mostly two or three days.


Appreciative Inquiry

The glas is half-full.


Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to empower people in an organization to identify ideas and implement measures in order to develop their organization successfully and with satisfaction. In my role as an external adviser I introduce you to the principles and methods of Appreciative Inquiry, perform with you the Appreciative Inquiry and support you in your process of change.


A special attribute of Appreciative Inquiry is the positive approach: advisor and client explore together the strengths and opportunities of the organization and its people. People who perform Appreciative Inquiry assume that our awareness is shaped by our questions. There is a difference in asking "What is the problem? What is missing? What does not going well?" or to ask "What is the best we have? At what are we good? Where can we get?"

(translated from the book Beraten [consulting], 2017, p. 57)


Appreciative Inquiry is based upon 5 principles with a systemic and constructivist background. The approach of Appreciative Inquiry consists of 1 plus 4 steps in a cycle. After you identified the topic in the step define, the cycle starts with discover, proceeds with dream, design and the invitation to take action. This last step is named destiny. Key parts are interviews and summits (workshops). Appreciative Inquiry is widely used in all kinds of organizations (profit, non-profit, public, private, and trans-organizational). For more details see my blog entry Each Question ... (21 Jan 2017) and the references named there. 


Your Benefit

I support you as neutral expert. This enables you to decide on your further course of action and to put it into practice. Beside this you become acquainted with concepts and methods of management and cooperation that may be new for you: you watch and apply the concepts and methods particularly of organization development and can use them further on in your daily work. 


Organization Development

Organization Development (OD) deals with the cooperation of people in companies, administrations, universities, schools, hospitals, associations, unions, political and other organizations. OD is based on theories, insights and methods from sociology, psychology, economics and didactic. The goal and purpose of OD is to pilot change for the wellbeing of both the organization and the people inside and beyond. 


OD came into being during the 1940ies and 1950ies. It is based upon humanistic values, such as the wellbeing of the individual, education and social responsibility. The approach is systemic. This means, to see the environment and parts of it as complex constructs, that are in turn parts of other complex constructs. 


Broadly speaking OD assumes that an organization prospers if the people in this organization prosper. "prosper" includes for the organization economical, social and ecological success. Regardless whether it is a production or service company, a profit oriented company or a nonprofit institution, an administration or anything else. "prosper" means for people health, appreciation, comfort and satisfying and demanding but not overwhelming work, the opportunity to develop personally and one's career plus a proper salary.


Organization developers work as inhouse or external counselors with the management board and the staff in order to support the organization during change. (book Beraten [consulting], 2017)


Christa Weßel - Monday, 05 Februar 2024


Blog section organization development


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