February 12, 2014

Does David Brooks Make the Case for Ombuds?

John Zinsser thinks that the high profile political and cultural commentator would.  In his latest blog post, Zinsser says, "David’s columns, always thought provoking and well crafted, almost weekly argue for the creation of more organizational ombuds programs (even though he never says it directly)."

In Brooks' most recent NY Times Op-Ed piece, he discusses what human skills will become valuable as computers increasingly take on more cognitive tasks.  Some of the traints he highlights are instrinsic to Ombuds work:
In the 1950s, the bureaucracy was the computer. People were organized into technocratic systems in order to perform routinized information processing. But now the computer is the computer. The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind.
Zinsser runs Pacifica Human Communications and regularly consults on Ombuds and conflict management matters. (Conflict Benefit Blog; NY Times.)

Related posts:  Baker Hughes Opens Ombuds Office; Columbia Adds Course on Advanced Ombuds Practice; Revisiting the Issue of 'Fairness'; Radio Interview With Columbia Ombuds Faculty.


  1. It's impossible to imagine our jobs being outsourced to another country or reduced to a computer application.
    -The Angry Ombuds

  2. Beyond the reality of outsourcing over seas or to a computer, Brooks has for several years been talking about the reality of human networks and the value of certain types of people who enhance the functionality and performance of these networks. For a lecture I gave last summer I utilized several concepts from his book "The Social Animal." On 155 his imagined focal point, Erica, writes herself a memo about how she sees the world (specifically the business world) and how she intends to succeed in it. Among the memes there is are: "Think in Networks." "Be the glue." "Be an Idea-space Integrator." These among other thoughts have long had me thinking that Brooks would "get" organizational ombuds, and might be one of the voices that helps us move forward.

    In 2006, when I gave the closing Keynote to the IOA Annual conference in San Diego, I challenged the room to think about who would be the "connectors" who might help us grow. For me, Brooks could be a good one. Who else might you think of?

    John W. Zinsser
    Pacifica Human Communications, LLC.
    Adjunct Faculty, Columbia University.

  3. Is this the second part of your blog post?