© 2018. By Luis A. Marrero, M.A. RODP, LLP
CEO Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose
February 27, 2018. Updated on April 11, 2018
Second Wave Organization Development or OD2.0 has been described in current literature (Marrero 6 May 2016; Marrero 15 Feb. 2018). The OD2.0 brand stands on two legs: (1) people first and (2) designing solutions fit-to-context. Building on that foundation, this paper describes in greater detail the application of Meaningful Purpose Psychology (Logoteleology or Logotelogy) Organization Development approach (LODA) within the context of a fine dining restaurant chain in the United States of America. First, this paper briefly reviews four theories to Organization Development (OD) that are leveraged by the Logoteleology practitioner: Positive (Cameron, et al 2003), Meaning-Centered (Wong 2017), classical or Lewinian (Lewin 1975; Sites, et al 1989; Rothewell 1995); and Meaningful Purpose Psychology or Logoteleological (Marrero 2013). Second, each one of these approaches is a valid OD method. However, I explain how they can be blended and help meet different contextual realities using the STARS Model (Watkins 2003). Fitting method-to-context by combining two or more of these four approaches is a key signature of the Logoteleology OD Approach (LODA). (Marrero 27 July 2015; Marrero 23 Dec. 2015; Marrero 7 July 2016; Marrero 20 Jan. 2018;). I explain the difference between the LOD method and the LOD Approach (LODA). Third, the paper describes another key signature of LODA: the AVR Method© (Meaning: awareness, analysis, validation, re-decision, plus replacement and sustainment), and how the scheme was used and helped the client organization achieve its goals in a meaningful way. The outcomes of the consulting process highlight the positive value of the LODA approach, yet I encourage further empirical research to the method. While the LOD and LODA processes are discussed, this paper’s attention is on the Logoteleology Organization Development Approach (LODA). Finally, Second Wave Organization Development (OD 2.0) is synonymous with LODA.
Of the many Organization Development (OD) methods and tools available, which is best? How can I best diagnose conditions and select a fitting process that will effectively solve the problem or maximize the opportunity? What tools can I confidently leverage to increase the odds that all stakeholders are well-served? What values should guide my improvement approach? Why, despite so many self-congratulatory consulting firms and a rich resource of tools and methods are there such dismal reports on the state of trust, engagement and happiness at work? While the field of Organization Development has not been able to tackle these problems at a macro-social level, it can still play a decisive role in improving conditions (Marrero 15 Feb. 2018). Many change management initiatives fail, or their positive effect is short-lived for two crucial reasons. First, they do not give equal priority and weight to competence-building and the practice of meaningful behaviors. Second, many change initiatives do not adapt method-to-context. I explain how a Logoteleology “people first” mindset and a method-to-context approach was successfully implemented in a restaurant setting.
LODA, as an emerging approach, has shown promising results in the OD field helping organizations strike the right balance between profitability and being humane. The Logoteleology OD approach follows a “People First” practice where an individual and collective effort are considered the driving engine to prosperity and growth. Success can be achieved through three unified venues. First, by building competence. Second, by practicing virtuous values. And third, by applying a method-to-context blend of classical, positive, meaning-centered, and logotelogical approaches to OD.
Four Organization Development Methods
Four Organization Development (OD) methods (Marrero 15 Feb. 2018) play a predominant role in improving organizational performance and quality of work life.
- Classical or Lewinian approaches look at both social, psychological (i.e., social psychology) and technical aspects of situations. Pioneered in the United States of America by Kurt Lewin as a response to social injustice and in support of the diversity agenda, the method emphasizes planning, process, and inclusion. (Sites, et al. 1989; NTL Institute) Lewinian OD must not be confused with management consulting OD (Marrero 15 Feb. 2018). And while with different origins, the classical approach also includes the British Tavistock and the German Gestalt schools of OD.
- Positive Psychology (PP) defines success in terms of abundance and well-being and addresses a broad array of subjects on positivity such as the impact of virtuousness on performance, gratitude, and meaning in work (Cameron et al. 2003)
- Meaning-Centered Approach (MCA) and its PURE Model highlights the centrality of meaning and purpose, embracing both positive and negative emotions and experiences, servant leadership, and responsible action for what is good and worthwhile (Wong 2017; Wong 2011).
- Logotelogical OD (LOD) as a unique method leverages its identity model (Marrero February 8, 2014) and AVR Method© to study the meaning individuals, groups, organizations, and nations give to self, others, and situations to understand the motivation, actionable behavior, and consequence. Meanings can be meaningful or life-enhancing; or meaningless or life-depleting (Marrero 2013). In the LOD scheme, meanings precede and prompt behavior. Meanings provide the why, and purposeful action the what and how. Logoteleology’s meaningfulness is by default positive.
Distinguishing Between LOD and LODA
There are two OD Logoteleological approaches to improvement: pure and blended. The pure LOD, as its name implies, adheres to logoteleology tools and methods. A second consulting alternative combines two or more of the LOD, Classical, PP, and MCA OD approaches to fit method-to-context. This second more inclusive style I call the Logoteleology Organization Development Approach or LODA. LODA — as a blended approach where there is no “one-best-method” – follows the axiom that context dictates the best approach. Hence, the setting can dictate a leading role by either classical, positive, meaning-centered, and logotelogical OD. However, while any school of OD can play a prominent role, to meet the criteria of LODA, the blending includes the LOD way, regardless of context. To assess such context, I use Watkin’s STAR Model. The Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose is the pioneer and hub of LODA or its synonym: OD 2.0 (Second Wave Organization Development).
Watkin’s STAR Model
The STAR Model (Watkins, 2003) can help assess the business context. The five states are Start-up, Sustaining Success, Realignment, Turnaround, and Shutdown/Divestiture.
- Start-up entails building the infrastructure and culture with limited resources.
- Sustaining Success requires expanding and holding on to gains.
- Realignment is vital when there are deviations from expectations, and the team or organization must refocus meaning, purpose, and process.
- Turnaround point to severe conditions that demand a reversal of current practices. The survival of players, departments, branches, divisions and even the corporation could be at stake.
- Shutdown/Divestiture means that the Turnaround intervention was not successful. Steps must be taken to stop operations or divest unprofitable segments of the organization.
The STAR Model does not replace the typical classical consulting process steps: contract, gap and root cause analysis, design options and solution development, implementation, and impact assessment (Jordyn, 2017; Rothewell et al., 1995, p 50-1). Instead, the STAR Model complements the consulting process to determine the school of psychology most appropriate for the situation or context.
Matching OD Psychological Approaches to Context
Logoteleology Consultants are trained in all schools of OD and thus can select the most appropriate approach to context, as follows:
- Start-up Phase: While any one of the schools can play a significant role, meaning-centered, logotelogical and positive approaches are most beneficial for this phase. They can play a leading role in creating a virtuous culture as the engine for profit and general prosperity. For instance, if a logotelogical approach is followed, members of the organization would answer questions such as “What meaningful impact will our organization have on all stakeholders?”
- Sustaining Success: Is a phase that supports the start-up’s momentum by building strengths and meaningful values and finding ways to close competence and technical gaps. The selected approach from the start-up phase would continue to play a leading role in strengthening the culture for competitive advantage. However, it could be complemented by the classical approach to ensure the technical and commercial systems are performing and improving as expected. This sustaining phase is about building and managing growth. It answers the sample questions such as “What can we do to avoid becoming complacent?” And “What positive approach will we follow to manage realignments and avoid turnarounds?”
- Realignment is required when the values of the organization are being tested, and financial metrics are not being met. These conditions fit the stage described by Bruce W. Tuckman (1965) as “Storming,” though in realignment the “storm” is considered mild. The leading approaches would be those best fit to aid the organization to be true to meaningful values, leverage strengths, and build competence in weak areas as the engine to solve technical, process and commercial issues. This stage is usually an early testing ground to a genuine commitment to values. It answers questions such as “What is it that we are not good at, that if we were, we would not be facing this problem?” Followed by, “What strengths and meaningful values will we muster to improve?” And “What must we be good at to avoid the turnaround stage?”
- Turnaround conditions are a severe type of “storming.” As a rule, because survival depends on sound financial results, turnarounds require a leading role by the classical approach. The goal is to stop loss and to enhance customer loyalty to products and services through people-centered values. Given many years of experience in the field, the Logoteleology practitioner follows the axiom that financial underperformance starts with and is the outcome of human underperformance. Such underperformance happens when LOD’s “People First” rule is violated. The negative business conditions are, as a rule, the result of lack of competence and misaligned values (e.g., lack of trust and transparency). This gap erodes the organization’s capacity to discern and respond to deviations and trends. While classical OD should play a leading role for this phase, any of the other remaining approaches could play a supportive and complementary role, particularly instilling a positive “can do” attitude on members of the organization.
A meaningful approach would prevent the organization from wasting time playing the blame game (Berne 2004). Instead, team members are coached to focus and follow meaningful values and behaviors to improve conditions. This phase is a test of character and values where virtuosity and profitability can either be opposing or balanced weights on a values scale.
- Shutdown/Divestiture happens when the turnaround fails. Because lives are affected by closures and divestitures (e.g., investors, customers, employees, and suppliers) I recommend the leading role of LOD, MCA and positive OD approaches, supported by the classical method. Following values that help affected parties transition whole and humanely should play a prominent role.
To complement Watkin’s STAR Model, the LOD follows the logotelogy seven phases or process steps of the AVR Method©.
 The stages are forming, storming, norming, and performing. Others have added “outperforming and adjourning” to these stages of group and organizational development.
The AVR Method©
Certified and licensed logotelogists, whether coaches, consultants, counselors or therapists, use the AVR Method© to help clients in their improvement journey. AVR stands for meaning awareness, analysis, validation, re-decision, replacement; reintegration, reinforcement and sustainment.
- Meaning Awareness entails bringing to one’s attention what is not known, perceived and understood. (Marrero, December 2017)
- Meaning Analysis involves helping the client understand the “so what” or the implications, impact, and consequence of the meaning given to self, others, and situations.
- Meaning Validation tests the quality of the meaning given to self, others and situations. The MPP Golden Quality Standard is Meaningfulness. (Marrero, February 4, 2018)
- Meaning Re-decision quizzes the client’s readiness to confront reality and commit to improving.
- Meaning Replacement and Realignment is the phase where meaningless meanings are replaced, realigned, improved, enhanced and finetuned with meaningful options. Here complementary skills are identified, learned, and practiced in a safe setting.
- Meaning Reintegration and Restoration entails identifying targets of opportunity to apply the meaningful options. While the previous step identifies, plans, and practices improvements, reintegration requires
- applying new patterns for relating with others
- practicing skills to gain access to one’s and others’ meanings
- constructing with stakeholders a mutually meaningful compatible reality.
- Meaning Reinforcement and Sustainment is the improvement phase where success is celebrated, reinforced, and hence sustained.
In practice, the AVR Method© has proven to be a powerful and meaningful tool, yet we encourage research on the method.
Let’s now see how the LODA consultant makes a meaningful difference through a case study of a fine dining restaurant chain. I will place in brackets the phases of the AVR Method© to demonstrate progress.
Case Study: Client Restaurateur
In the year 2005, an upscale restaurant chain was experiencing increasing costs in some of its restaurants. Top leadership asked the consultant to discover the cause of the cost deviation and to recommend improvements.
After a few days reviewing financial statements and interviewing staff through the value chain, the consultant found that sommeliers and front-of-house managers were ordering expensive wines and displaying them in large wine racks to entice guests (Meaning Awareness phase). However, the restaurants were not generating the desired demand from patrons through the visual cue, hence, the reason for the low turnover and the high cost of wine inventory (Meaning Analysis phase).
Again, using the previously mentioned Watkins STAR Model, the consultant concluded from conditions that a realignment approach was the appropriate path to follow. In other words, minor adjustments could normalize cost. The methods used were a combination of classical, and what was at the time LOD’s emerging meaning-centered theoretical approach. (Meaning-centered methods are, by default, positive.) The consulting assignment required a classical way to make a diagnosis, explicitly approaching the problem from a quality and financial perspective. And while the business situation used classical tools, the human element was dealt with the stated emerging meaning-centered LOD approach.
The first recommendation dealt with the meaning given to key stakeholders, and to the situation (Meaning Awareness phase). The consultant proposed giving positive recognition to the sommeliers and front-of-house managers for showing initiative to experiment and to innovate; notably to improve the guest experience and for their desire to increase sales. In other words, the sommeliers and front-of-house managers were not to be reprimanded for attempting to do the right thing. While the business results were negative, the meaning-intention was positive. Consistent with Dr. William Edward Demin’s 14 Key Principles to quality, specifically the eight Key Principle, “Drive out fear,” (Deming, 1986) the meaning principle followed was: what is rewarded and punished influences purposeful action or behavior (Meaning Validation and Meaning Re-decision phases). In this case, the consultant gave management two options for how to handle the situation with restaurant staff: either legitimize the disclosure of errors as an opportunity to learn and to improve; or instead discourage organization members from revealing and solving problems because of fear of intimidation and reprisal (Meaning Analysis and Meaning Validation phases). Management supported the consultant’s recommendation to reward initiative. (Meaning Re-decision phase)
The second recommendation dealt with the commercial requirements. The goal was to engage all sommeliers and front-of-house managers to learn from failure and come up with solutions. The positive outcome of the exercise was to
• Explain and use the current financial state as the number to improve, and to describe how wine inventory impacted cost (In the work sessions the referent parties were not put-out.)
• Improve the guest experience to attract new patrons and maintain existing ones.
• Increase sales while keeping cost in line with expectations.
The consultant facilitated creative brainstorming sessions where participants exchanged best practices with one another and learned from corporate and external experts on how to achieve optimal results. Participants were able to create, innovate and pair alluring menus, to increase inventory turnover on targeted products, reduce cost, and to enhance restaurant staff and patron experience.
Solutions included: learning new problem-solving and decision-making skills, establishing new corporate standards, improving processes, and implementing innovative and creative solutions to increase wine sales while keeping costs down for widespread adoption (i.e., what to do and how to do it) (Meaning Replacement, Reintegration, and Sustainment phases). Qualitative and quantitative post-assessment results showed improvements in crucial areas such as staff morale, guest experience, and higher profitability in line with expectations. The improvement effort also created a pathway for employees to fulfill a meaningful purpose for themselves, the organization, and their patrons.
Considering depressing reports on the state of trust, engagement and happiness at all levels and in every continent on the planet (Marrero February 4, 2018) OD theorist and practitioners should assess why, despite a collection of approaches and methods, macro-level results show no sign of improvement. Causes for this depressing state have been published (Marrero 15 Feb. 2018). Second Wave Organization Development is an attempt to break out of the existing consulting and leadership paradigms, and to replace them with a meaningful “people first” approach. Building on previous papers on the topic of Second Wave Organization Development (Marrero May 1, 2016), I share here a typical OD2.0 or LODA approach to a restaurant chain in the United States of America. From the cache of methods and tools available to the consultant, two were blended to solve the restaurant chain’s problem: LOD and classical.
The critical competence takeaways from this case consist of knowing how to diagnose a business scenario using Watkin’s STAR Model, blending methods fit-to-context, and following LOD’s AVR Method© to remain in touch with reality as it is, and helping the client select meaningful (i.e., virtuous) alternatives to improve conditions — including a “people first” philosophy.
The four psychological schools as methods of intervention shared here are Classical, Positive. Meaning-Centered Approach, and Logotelogy. LODA aspiring consultants are encouraged to become versed in all these schools so that they can select the best approach to context.
In the high-end restaurant chain, two methods played a prominent role: classical and LOD. Since two methods were blended, the approach is considered a LODA.
The Watkin’s STAR Model helped the consultant define the context. After identifying the setting, the consultant selected the psychological approach best suitable to solve the problem. As discussed, the high-end restaurant chain’s context required a realignment-type approach. The blended classical and LOD were found to be fitting approaches to improve conditions.
Finally, the AVR Method© complemented the classical consulting process steps to ensure the restaurant chain moved forward from one phase to the next on a firm and confident footing. Meaning awareness revealed the commercial results that drew attention and led to the assignment of a consultant. The combined meaning awareness, analysis and validation exercise by the consultant revealed positive meaning-centered intentions by staff (i.e., increase sales), yet commercial incompetence on how to manage inventory. Restaurant operators were made aware of the negative financial statements, and state of the wine inventory (meaning awareness) as the cause (meaning analysis) of the fiscal deviation (meaning validation). Embraced by top management (meaning re-decision and replacement) the realignment approach followed (Watkins 2003) avoided penalizing restaurant operators for their positive intent to increase sales. Instead, following Demin’s principle to remove fear from the system, they were to be openly acknowledged by management for taking the initiative, followed by a commitment to build their skills to ensure their future success. Hence, management followed the proposed “people first” principle.
The case study represents one situation from many others where the LODA approach has demonstrated promising results. However, these promising results should be further tested with qualitative and quantitative rigor. For instance, researchers could test the proposition that method should fit the context. The AVR Method© too has shown promising results in coaching and OD consulting approaches. On the other hand, it still requires being studied with scientific rigor.
Finally, the OD 2.0 brand is established on two fundamental elements of Logoteleology psychology. First, giving priority to people by building competence and practicing virtuous leadership, and the second implementing solutions fit-to-context. Certified LOD and LODA consultants are versed on the theories and concepts and can demonstrate competence in their practice. Ultimate, the goal of the Logoteleology practitioner, is to create a path to a meaningful purpose that benefits all stakeholders.
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 The stages are forming, storming, norming, and performing. Others have added “outperforming and adjourning” to these stages of group and organizational development.