A colleague found out I am in a doctoral program in Human and Organization Development while we were working with a group. In introducing the process we had planned to work through, he then said something to the effect of “let’s face it – with no offense when you are in a doctorate in this area – but this stuff is really just common sense.”

How do Organization Development scholars respond to this? My conclusions so far are these. Yes, the skills and competencies needed to  lead oneself, be an effective team member, influence and motivate others to work towards goals and so on may appear to be common sense on the surface. For each of these, the answers sound simple such as: communicate openly, address conflict in a timely and effective way, be respectful, listen to all opinions and so on. The problem of course are the verbs and adverbs associated with each of these, because while we may instinctively know what to do to be positive people in organizations and in all our relationships, we do not always know how to do those things and do them effectively. I might know instinctively when I have hurt someone at work and therefore affected our ability to work together optimally on a project.