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Why OD? Martin says opera, a Rolex watch and family.

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In this first episode of "Why OD?" we interview Martin Saville founding director of Mayvin. And his story includes a Rolex, opera and family.
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Welcome to the first episode of our podcast mini series. Why OD? As organisation development is not something most people have heard of. Claire Newell, Marketing Manager at Mayvin was really interested in hearing how people found themselves working in this world we call OD.

In asking our Mayvin consultants this question, Claire found their responses really interesting and really varied. In fact, she found it brought a little bit of what makes each of them so unique and special to the fore.

So these short 10 to 15 minute podcasts are a quick way to get to know the varied paths and personalities of our wonderful consultants. In this first episode you can listen to the interview with Martin Saville founding director of Mayvin. We hope you enjoy it.

Transcript of the interview with Martin Saville

Claire Newell 1:47
Okay, so hi, Martin Saville.

Martin Saville 1:50

Claire Newell 1:51
Do you want to introduce yourself a bit as to as to who you are. Your background?

Claire Newell 1:55
Sure. Hi, everyone. I'm Martin Saville, I'm Managing Director of Mayvin. And I, therefore split my time between doing my kind of leadership role in Mayvin, and being an OD practitioner. And my background is many and varied as I think lots of OD people have this. This sense of having done lots of things first.

So I started my career in the world of opera, having done a degree in classics. Ran opera companies for a number of years, before getting recruited to London Business School, where I did an MBA. And it was that world that then got me interested in organisational life and from there to OD. So that's, that's my background.

Claire Newell 2:49
Yeah, so I'm interested to know, because I think a lot of people haven't heard of organisational or organisation development. And it is quite interesting hearing people's routes or journeys into it. Sort of how they discovered it, and then why they chose it. So I'd love to hear yeah, how you discovered this thing that we call OD?

Martin Saville 3:13
Yeah, no, absolutely. One of the things that people often say, is that they were doing OD long before they knew it was a thing. And that's certainly been my experience. So I think in many ways, I've been doing it ever since I started working in the world of opera.

When I think of what people appreciated me for. Yes, I was good at producing rehearsal schedules and managing the mechanics of an opera company. That is what what my job was. But actually, what they appreciated was that there was something about how I was doing it. That meant that people who had strong views, often opposing views, differing needs. Somehow I was able to negotiate between those for the good of the production we were trying to achieve. So I think that's what people really valued.

And when I look back at some of the other jobs I've done. And again, that's what I've been being valued for. I mean, when I discovered it was a thing. It was while I was at London Business School during my MBA. One of the professors there, Richard Jolly, who subsequently became a friend and a mentor. He sort of tapped me on the shoulder one day. He was the guy that was running the change management elective. And he said: There's something about the way you write about change that is really interesting. And what he actually said was, I think you'd really benefit and enjoy doing some training in psychotherapy and counselling.

He said, I've done that, but don't tell anyone. And in fact, he said a number of us Business School academics have done that. Because it gives an insight into the people side that a kind of traditional business school isn't so interested in. And he said, you seem interested in that.

And it was like some kind of light bulb, penny dropping type moment that conversation. Because my mother and stepfather are both psychotherapists. So I mean, it's like, duh, of course, I was going to have that particular orientation as the air I breathed in.

I had the classics background. An arts background. And those kinds of ways of, you know, the ways of looking at the world. The human condition. Relationships that those kinds of subjects are interested in was, of course, hugely informing how I was approaching my business school training. Which traditionally has quite a different outlook.

So I went and did the training, and had a wonderful year at Regents College. I was trying to work out then what to do next. In that process of really actively looking, I discovered that there were places that were interested in working with organisations. And in organisational life. But with a kind of a mindset. That and a set of values that fitted all that stuff I was just talking about. In terms of my background, and that thing was called OD, I discovered. Organisation development. And so then I had something that I could grab hold off and develop myself further in. To train further in and learn about and that's how I got into it.

Claire Newell 6:42
Nice, so that's quite almost as quite a good summary, in my mind of what OD is. Because, you know, you've got the MBA, and then the psychotherapy training. It's almost the combination of the two, isn't it. Understanding people and how people work and understanding how businesses want to run or should run and combining the two? I guess. So?

Martin Saville 7:02
Yeah, I mean, I think that's right. And often, when I'm introducing myself, that's what I'll talk about. I mean, you know, these things are very personal. So you know, there's a notion in an OD, called the use of self. It doesn't just belong to OD, but use of self, use the self as an instrument. I've written about it and podcasted about it before.

But it's this idea that, that you know, who we are as a practitioner? Well, you know, that's indivisible from the practice of the work. And it's a notion that it's very alive, in any of the kind of helping professions where relationships are what matters. So you know, teaching or social work or medicine or anything, where the relationship matters, who you are, shows up.

Another way of answering your question, what got me into OD is. I mentioned my mother and stepfather being psychotherapists. My father is in business and is a lawyer. So in many ways, when I talk to my father about what I do, he's interested in the business side of things. And when I talk to my stepfather about what I do, he's interested in the sort of the therapeutic relational side of things.

So you know, surprise, surprise, I somehow found a way to do a job that brought together two worldviews. From two very important people in my life, who I love very much and had been in my life for for an awful long time, in a single career. So you know, of course, that's this is what I would end up doing is really one way of looking at it.

Claire Newell 8:40
And there's a lovely story that you told us internally, Mayvin, recently at an Away Day. I don't know if you wouldn't mind sharing it here. Because it

Martin Saville 8:51
Is this the watch story?

Martin Saville 8:52
Yeah. You just mentioned your father and your stepfather. And I thought it was a lovely story. So if you don't mind sharing?

Martin Saville 8:57
Sure, yeah, absolutely. So something that we will often do with groups. And I think when when you heard this story we were doing is in inside Mayvin, but we'll often do this with client groups as well. We'll say to people early on, as a way of inviting them to say a little bit more about who they are.

Beyond what I sometimes call name, rank and serial number, just to find an object on their person. And do a little show and tell and say a little bit about why it's important to them. Or why it matters to them. Or what it says more about them than what you might otherwise know.

And the reason we do that is because we believe that it's the connection and the relationship and the the kind of space that you can create that's psychologically safe. That enables good work to be done. So when I told this story, we were doing this activity in Mayvin and I happened to have my watch on.

If I say I happen to have it. It's the only watch I really have and I wear it all the time and it's a lovely genuine Rolex watch. And the reason I chose this item is that this watch was actually a watch that was provided by an insurance company after its predecessor got stolen.

But its predecessor was a Rolex watch that had belonged to my father. The watch had broken down. And when I was very little, my father, let me have this watch, because it didn't work. So as a small boy, I kept this watch.

Many years later I was in my teens, I looked at it, and thought goodness, this is a Rolex. So I took the Rolex to the local high street jewellers, and they got it going kind of and I wore this watch with pride, even though it didn't really tell the time terribly well.

And then I guess I was in my mid 20s. And by then I wasn't wearing the watch anymore, but it was just lived in a box at my, my mother, and stepfathers house, and the watch was stolen in a burglary. So the insurers who were obviously very good, when I listed out what I'd lost, I wrote down that I'd lost a Rolex watch. That kind of worked. And they said, Well, it's a new for old policy, we'll give you another one.

But in order for that to happen, my father and my stepfather worked very closely together to demonstrate the kind of watch it was and to to prove to the Loss Adjuster that it was indeed a genuine Rolex watch, and all of that kind of thing.

And so, when I was presented with this, with with some fanfare, it was a present from both of them. And that, for me, was, is something that I find very moving. So I guess, you know, I talked earlier about how in the opera company, for example, I was valued, because I help people from if you like, the different tribes work well together.

And I think one of the reasons that I'm good at that is because, as a boy growing up with. Between these two families, divorced parents, you know, not an unusual story, of course, but but for every person to whom it happens, it's a very significant thing.

And what I noticed as a boy growing up was, you know, I had these two families that I cared about deeply. I loved very much, they loved me, who saw the world so differently, I think that, that was what gave me the, I call it a skill, but it's more about who I am, it's deeper than a skill. Something about how I am that makes that possible.

Of course, you know, when we talk about self as instrument, this is something that I think about, because it was only many years later, doing my own personal work, that I realised how important that was to me, and that that's what I was doing. And, of course, you know, there's a way in which it's a gift, it's my gift, you know, and as so often happens with people, your gifts come from our wounds.

But there's also a way in which, until I started really paying attention to it, it was something that times was slightly compulsive, almost, you know, I was compulsive about trying to bring people who didn't see the world the same way together. And of course, you know, I had to stop, stop putting myself in that position. Because that wasn't always helpful for anyone. So, so that's the Rolex watch story.

Claire Newell 13:29
Yeah. Lovely. Thank you. So I guess one last sort of question is, how do you see OD and what does it mean to you?

Martin Saville 13:38
Yeah. Well, at Mayvin, we sometimes use the expression, making the world a better place for people that want to make the world a better place. And it's a little bit of a kind of a north star, when we think about what are we about as a business? It's one of the things that we think about.

And when I think about that question, you know, what does OD mean, to me, that's really what it's about. That's what I'm in it for, it's to make a difference, make a difference in terms of the kind of impact we have directly on our clients. On their ability in a world that is, let's face it, incredibly troubled, incredibly pressured, incredibly anxious making.

That their ability in that kind of context to to do some good and, and also equally to be part of building and fostering and nurturing an organisation in terms of Mayvin that is also working from those those values. And, of course, you know, we don't always get it 100% right. How can you but for me that's, that's ultimately what it's all about. Yeah.

Claire Newell 14:52
Is there anything else you'd like to add or?

Martin Saville 14:54
No, thank you. It's been an enjoyable conversation and I look forward to hearing it and others to see whether what I said made any sense.

Claire Newell 15:07
Thank you so much for listening to us today and we hope to see you next time. Take care bye bye

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