I trained as a scientist, have a Ph D in Chemistry and followed it with two years of research at the University of Chicago. Then I joined ICI, a world-class chemical company, as a “Senior Research Scientist”.
The company wanted its scientists to learn how to work better together with people. (Academic research is usually individual and intellectual discipline). They sent us on T-groups. In a T-group, you spend up to a week on one task “To examine your behaviour as it happens!”. I didn’t expect this to change my life!
I quickly learned an important thing about myself. I talked very fast and didn’t look at the person I was talking to so didn’t get whether they were with me. At the end of the event, I had a profound insight “We could solve all the problems we have in the industry if we just listen to each other.”
A week later, I “heard” from somewhere “You (humanity) can solve all the problems of the world if you listen to each other” and “Nick, that’s your job!”. This was not a calling it was an instruction. and it was though I was being blown by a wind, I had no choice about doing it.
Four years later, I was an internal OD consultant. I interpreted this as “Doing whatever I could get away with that was likely to be helpful!”. Most of it was listening to people and helping them listen to each other This was 1974. I’ve been working at my job ever since!