A “Fireside Chat” with a Fortune 500 CEO – the Value of Organizational Development

On Monday, Nov 12, 2012, I attended a unique first-time event sponsored by the Triangle Organizational Development Network (TODN – link). The event was limited to a small number of participants to allow for more intimate discussion and interaction over a nice dinner in a restaurant private dining room. The event was billed as a “fireside chat” and titled “OD Value Proposition from the CEO Perspective.”

Rick Anicetti

The featured speaker (actually it was more of an informal interactive chat) was Rick Anicetti, a former “Fortune 500” CEO is now Founder and President of From One to Many Leadership Consulting LLC (an affiliate of Vistage International.) Prior to his latest venture, Rick was CEO of Delhaize America, which is the parent company for the well-known leading grocery chain Food Lion.

As one of relatively few CEOs who actually spent time in a Human Resources position, Rick offered us some excellent and profound insights into leadership. Rick was specifically asked to address how he as a CEO views the value of the Organizational Development practitioner. Some of the nuggets of wisdom I took away included:

• In today’s market, it is often difficult to differentiate between competitors. They can all get the same products, systems and processes. So therefore the one differentiator can be an organization’s people, and their ability to get it done better and faster.

• A company’s human resources (or people) are the most important investment of the company, but also its most expensive and fragile resource.

• Since most CEO’s do not have HR or Organizational Development experience, we in HR need to “ease into things” pertaining to HR and OD instead of blasting in with everything all at once. I liked Rick’s colorful analogy of “not leading the CEO out onto the skinny boards too quickly.”

• It is important for HR and OD practitioners to really know the core business and to look for strategic ways to make an impact on the business

• A simple way to look at leading others: share all you can, share where you are going, why we are going there, and each individual’s role in it.

It is a special opportunity to spend quality time in a small group setting with a senior business leader of Rick’s stature. I thank Bob Stapleton and the TODN leadership team for setting up this wonderful opportunity. And I encourage all TODN members and friends to take advantage of future “Fireside Chats.”