September 07, 2021 at 12:15 am
Tony La Viña
"It is never too late to embark on a journey to learn about oneself."
Whoever, whenever or whenever we find ourselves in, we all want to fully harness our potentials and to understand ourselves better. But how do we go about it? The book entitled—“Organization and Education Development Reflecting and Transforming in a Self-Discovery Journey”—authored by my friend Suresh Nanwani—might just show us the way.
In this book, the author embarks on a journey to activate, develop, and recreate himself. He has extensive experience as a development worker in different countries, including in the Philippines where he worked for years in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and where I got to know him when we served together, albeit in different capacities with the ADB Compliance Review Panel. He is currently a professor of practice at the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University, the United Kingdom, and an honorary associate professor at Australian National University, College of Law. All of these achievements have however proved to be not an obstacle to continuing the journey for self-change and self-awareness as he puts it because “it still goes on since life is a continuous learning through the world.” In short, it is never too late to embark on a journey to learn about oneself.
With a PhD degree in Organization Development (OD), Nanwani uses his knowledge in the discipline as a toolkit for self-discovery. In a nutshell, he describes OD as a discipline “about applying knowledge and finding ways to develop, improve, and transform organizations, companies, individuals, and societies through a process of change.” The impetus of the book is a recommendation by her Dissertation Committee to put into writing her insights that would be “useful as reference for those who are and will be embarking on a similar journey of self-awareness and self-change” as the experience would “help nourish the souls and the minds in creating a culture of reflective practitioners.”
In planning for his journey to become a fully integrated person and professor, the author chose from a few well-trodden routes, but decided finally to focus on three core values: (1) integrity, (2) professionalism, and (3) spirituality, with no hierarchical order of importance. In the process, he decided to find out three things: (1) how to understand himself better; (2) how to see visible, positive change in himself; and (3) how to ensure self-improvement that cascades into better teaching and influence interactions with students.
In the book, the author revisited OD theories and concepts as springboard. The author used the description of OD as “a process that applies a broad range of behavioral science knowledge and practices to help organizations build their capacity to change and to achieve greater effectiveness . . .” and OD “is both a professional field of social action and an area of scientific inquiry”, quoting Cummings & Worley.
Together with theories of OD models and accompanying literature, the author also explored other tools like positive organization scholarship, Eastern perspectives: ikigai, yoga, meditation, and tai chi. As to his research instruments, Nanwani decided on three: (1) a journal that he filled out daily for a two-month period—from November 1 to December 31, 2019—where Nanwani and the two independent readers served as the respondents; (2) a survey followed by an interview with each of the 30 respondents (20 friends and 10 students); and (3) accompanying feedback questions for the nine-member jury of experts (expert jurors).
In the journal, the author asked himself the following questions: 1. What was the incident or thing that happened? 2. What did I observe about myself in that instance? 3. How can I have more of this good thing in the future?
For the interview protocols, the author came up with the following questions:
My study is about my practice of three values—integrity, professionalism, and spirituality. On integrity, what are the two non-negotiable behaviours that demonstrate it?
On integrity, recall an unforgettable instance when you saw me practicing it.
In that instance, what behaviors did you see in me when I was practicing integrity?
On professionalism, what are the two non-negotiable behaviours that demonstrate it?
On professionalism, recall an unforgettable instance when you saw me practicing it.
In that instance, what behaviours did you see in me when I was practicing professionalism?
On spirituality, what are the two non-negotiable behaviours that demonstrate it?
On spirituality, recall an unforgettable instance when you saw me (Nanwani) practicing it.
In that instance, what behaviours did you see in me (Nanwani) when I was practicing spirituality?
Do you have any additional comments to give?
In the next part of this two-part series, we shall summarize the author’s research findings and the significance of the study, the lessons that can be drawn by OD practitioners, professionals, academe, students and the public in general who may be inclined to undertake their own quest for self-discovery, self-awareness and continuing self-improvement in order to better understand and develop one’s self into a fully integrated person even in the midst of the challenges that present themselves as each one of us embark in our own journey of living.
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