Organisation Development

by Rosie Stevens

So what’s it all about?

Organisation Development (OD) is a long-range, long-term, holistic and multi-faceted approach to achieving transformational change and to developing the potential, capacity and capability of an organisation, its culture, its systems and the people within it. This enables an organisation, most effectively and efficiently, to deliver the organisation’s purpose, vision and goals in a way that also meets and demonstrates the organisation’s (and its customers’) stated values.

It is a means by which organisations can bring about complex, deep, meaningful and lasting change. It is often linked with transformational change, including the development (or review and revision) of the organisation’s purpose and vision; it is also linked with strategic business planning. This is the logical starting point, as both are long-range in scope.

In these days of globalisation, increasing technology, virtual working, increased competition and an emphasis on more flexible working practices, partnerships and networks, an effective Organisation Development strategy or approach will often necessitate the inclusion, from the beginning, of the organisation’s stakeholders, partners, networks and customers.

The key to the development of an effective OD strategy is an excellent organisational diagnosis at the very start of the process. This diagnosis is preferably conducted in as participative a way as possible by consulting a wide range of internal leaders and people as well as key stakeholders, partners and customers.

In order to develop an effective OD strategy, it is wise to employ an OD consultant. They will help an organisation develop and improve by applying their specialist knowledge of behavioural and social sciences, such as sociology and psychology. The OD consultant may be either internal (normally in a role of Head or Director of OD) or external, being brought in specifically to help facilitate the transformation and change that the organisation needs to make.

Why bother?

An effective OD strategy and OD specialist can help make a huge difference to the organisation and its people. You’d expect to see

  • People becoming better performers, more highly motivated and noticeably developing their skills, capabilities and potential
  • Organisational performance and service delivery improving
  • Other things, such as innovation, creativity, participation and enjoyment of work can also show dramatic improvement and impact directly on products and services.

This topic will explore and explain the following areas:

  1. A brief history of Organisation Development
  2. Some definitions offered by those who have been most involved in studying, writing about and developing OD thinking and practice throughout the world
  3. Differences between organisation development and HR practice and scope
  4. The development of an OD strategy in your organisation: where do you start? Key elements of the strategy
  5. Some different approaches to OD and change in organisations, including Large Group Interventions and Appreciative Inquiry
  6. Employing and getting the best out of OD consultants.