Richard E. Powell, Class of 1973
I did my masters under George Henderson from 1971 to 1973 while an Army lieutenant colonel stationed at the Pentagon in DC. I traveled to many locations for courses being offered to the military – DC, Norman, San Antonio, Omaha, Minot (ND). My BA in psychology from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1956 and 14 years of experience as an officer gave me a good foundation for the HR experience. The first course in the masters program was a T-group which opened my eyes to human processes that could be enriched even in a military culture. At work I discovered the Army was studying the use of organization development in the military. So my electives supported my interest in that focus of HR. My thesis was on team building which I was involved in as part of the Army’s pilot test of OD which the Army chose to call Organizational Effectiveness - OE .
This led to my next assignment as the point man for expanding OE in the Army in Europe in 1974. Meanwhile the Army had established the OE Training Center at Ft Ord California to train selected officers in OD/OE. Ultimately, by 1977 I helped deploy about 30 OE officers into units throughout Europe. All the while I served as the lead OE consultant to elements of he Army headquarters in Heidelberg. With the help of an outside OD consultant we worked with a dozen or so clients in conducting action planning conferences, team building projects, continued study of survey feedback and the like.
OE received mixed acceptance. About half of officers could see its value and were excellent clients. Others were repelled by the participative management process and rejected the application of OE in their units. We made an effort not to force any of this on anyone, but as successes occurred more clients emerged.
In 1977, I was reassigned to the DC area again, this time to spearhead the OE effort at HQ of the Army Materiel Command, then known at DARCOM. For the next three years I helped deploy another 30 or so officers into subordinate units all around the States. Meanwhile, I was growing in experience and knowledge about OD which was enhanced by my attending the Columbia University Program in OD and Human Resource Management which brought me in touch with top OD consultants in the field.
In 1980, I retired and signed on with Union Pacific Railroad Company at its HQ in Omaha. There I continued to do OD and grow in the field. In 1982, I changed jobs and joined the Rohm and Haas Company in Philadelphia where I did OD and management development training until I retired in 1993. Thereafter until about 2001 I did OD consulting on my own under the firm title of System Change Consulting. I have since retired from the business but apply what I learned over the years in community leadership roles. I still have files for each of my HR masters courses and on rare occasions open them to dust off what I learned from this great OU experience.
Richard E. Powell
Posted on Tue, October 25, 2016
by Stacy Smith