Linda Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge, exemplary OD scholar-practitioner, died on 22 August 2022

A joyful life devoted to improving organisations & people

AT THE CENTRE of being a true scholar-practitioner we always find the person. Mee-Yan’s wealth of knowledge, thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity of spirit permeated every interaction with her. A brilliant mind, she had an almost uncanny ability to apply Organisational Development principles to any situation, from everyday issues to complex organisational challenges.

Addressing relationship challenges arising from the emerging Covid pandemic in 2020, she asked the poignant question, ‘What does OD have to offer to families and households facing Covid-19 situations?’ In her response, she distilled three OD ideas: First, families often create shortcuts to describe who we are, and those close and dear to us and, over time, we seldom question whether that still holds value. True to OD’s behavioural science principles, the intention to update our view of others will help us to enter into deeper intimacy with them as we ‘listen’ to who they say they are, and not who we think they are, or need them to be. Second, OD holds that behavioural patterns do not develop by chance, but rather through deliberate and repetitive action (intervention) to encourage their practice and to embed them. Thus, if we want all members of the household to develop the confidence to take leadership, we cannot just wish for it without encouraging this to happen. Thirdly, OD seeks to increase one’s self-awareness as a means to foster growth by encouraging the individual to recognize and name their feelings. The more an individual is aware of who they are, and of their emotional patterns and ways to deal with those patterns, the better their mental health will be, and the more they will be able to contribute to the civility of relationships in the group they belong to.

Mee-Yan receiving the Richard Beckhard Award in 2016

Dr Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge founded and led Quality & Equality Ltd. She worked worldwide with organisations to deliver major cultural change in global pharmaceutical, retail, energy, and media organisations. She led one of the world’s largest participatory change efforts at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and similar efforts with the United Arab Emirates’ multi-media organisation, and Singapore’s public service transformation programme.

A scholar and professor, she researched and taught at the Singapore Civil Service College; St. Thomas University, US; the Roffey Park Management Institute, UK; the Gestalt Certificate Programme, UK; IDDI – the executive institute of the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Spain; and Duke University’s Executive Leadership Programme, US. She authored various OD articles, books and reports, and was a member of the OD Review’s editorial board.

A leader among peers, she started the National Training Lab’s OD Certificate programme for Europe. The United Kingdom’s HR Magazine voted her the top influential thinker in the field of HR. She was named Member Emeritus by NTL, was also the recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award by ODN, and the Richard Beckhard Award by IODA, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field globally.

Mee-Yan speaking at the IODA Conference in South Africa in 2017

A long-term dear friend to IODA, Mee-Yan gave a highly inspiring and heartfelt keynote during IODA-2017 in South Africa, which powerfully showed how to find the best approach linking together context, theory, and tools.  She also engaged with IODA on how best to support OD practitioners’ self-development and understanding of core capabilities. And, during the pandemic, she connected at a personal level and shared resources with many members, to inspire them in their OD work.  

At the centre of what being a true scholar-practitioner means, she once said: “It is humbling to be an OD practitioner, and it is important that we continue to honour the trade. We need to celebrate HR because where would the world be without it? Go forth, the opportunities are there, the challenges are there. I absolutely adore HR people.

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