Pepperdine University | Graziadio Business School

Practicum 3 in Santiago, Chile

Omar Morales MSOD '17

When I learned that Tau Prime was heading to Santiago, Chile for Practicum 2 I immediate thought of salsa music, pisco sours, and wine. But beyond the glitz and glory of the location, lied the practices of appreciative inquiry, complexity theory, and large scale change, in the Latin American country with the most thriving economy and business culture.

In reflection, my 3 takeaways from Practicum 2 surround Appreciative Inquiry, Self as Instrument, and Dialogue in Community.

Appreciative Inquiry. AI is the search for the best in people and organizations. The client our consultancy group worked with was the Chilean IRS. The context I operated under when I entered the client engagement was:

  • Chile = hierarchical
  • IRS = conservative (operating for ~200 years)
  • Client: internal OD consultant and Labor Board leader = critical of the work
  • Latin American companies have had very limited exposure to AI = limited interest from the client team

I quickly learned of the power of AI. The workshop started with firm handshakes and skepticism in the air; the workshop ended with the client breaking into song and dance as part of a skit that depicting a possibility statement of their future. The energy, laughter and joy that filled the room was contagious. What led them to this point? Using AI to explore the art of possibility.

Being a clean instrument of change. How does one hold space for humanity while meeting the clinical objective of a client engagement? The answer to this question is my final takeaway. In order to remain an instrument of change, I had to suspend my assumptions and operate from a position of curiosity. In doing so, I asked myself questions like, what am I feeling and what does it mean? Being in touch with myself as an instrument of change was key, especially since people, experiences, and settings can provoke feelings that are rooted in my past. Having a handle on this allowed me to remain present and in service to the client.

Community dialogue and Large Scale Change. The work we did in 618 punctuated the value of using dialogue as an intervention. The Large Group Interventions I experienced created the space for inclusion, which made me feel heard. The act of creating the space for everyone is a tactic that allows each participant to develop a sense of investment and ownership, which is key in the change process. Not only are participants heard, but they create an inter-connection between themselves that is key in forming a collective future. Importantly, I walked away with a key nugget – “people have more confidence in the future when they carry forward the best parts of the past”.

Importantly, this string of questions got my wheels turning… What if we saw organizations as community? What if we saw community building as the outcome of OD? What if engagement and meaning in community was the basis of transformation? What if transformed community was the source of future possibilities? What starts out as an invitation to have a conversation can generate engagement, meaning and/or purpose, and as a result people can unify under the guise of community and possibility. What if?

I’ll leave you with a question... Describe an organization or environment you’ve been in that has most inspired you and others to want to learn. What made it such a favorable place for learning? How did you and others grow and change, as a result of being in this environment? If I would have answered this question during my application process, my response would only account for a fraction of what I have experienced being in the Tau Prime Cohort. With one trimester left in MSOD, I view Pepperdine University’s MSOD Program and the Tau Prime Community (including learning group consultants), as an incubator for transformational change at the personal, professional and community level.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

About the Author

Omar Morales

Sr. Manager
Talent Management & Organizational Development
Microsoft Corporation

Omar Morales is an organizational development and human resources professional at Microsoft Corporation, where he is the Senior Manager of Talent Management and Organizational Development for engineering teams across Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Morales joined Microsoft in 2015 to define, and lead an integrated talent management strategy intended to attract, develop and retain engineers working on the Bay Area teams – Xbox, HoloLens, Skype, Yammer, Bing Ads, and Outlook Mobile.

Morales joined Microsoft from DIRECTV, where he provided strategic human resources and organizational development support to the Content and Legal organizations. Morales also provided pre- and post-integration support for the AT&T merger and acquisition. Prior to DIRECTV, Morales held various HR leaderships roles at Procter & Gamble for the Home Care business in Cincinnati (Febreze, Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Dawn and Cascade), the Prestige Beauty Sales Division in New York City (Fragrances: Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Hugo Boss, and Male Grooming: The Art of Shaving), and Global HR for HR in Cincinnati where he led communications for the CHRO and learning & development for HR globally. Prior to P&G Morales held human resources positions with Eaton Corporation and City of Cleveland.

Morales holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communications & Human Resource Management from Cleveland State University. Morales is also enrolled at Pepperdine University’s top-ranked Master of Science in Organizational Development, where he has provided corporations consultancy in the US, Europe and Latin America.