What is Organization Development (OD)?
Organization Development or OD is an endeavor that concentrates on increasing and enhancing an organization’s capabilities and potential. Doing so results in a partnership between the management and the workforce to implement strategies, redesign structure, apply metrics, and improve processes that fulfill an organization’s vision and mission statement.
Scientific methodologies and proven models back OD, and interdisciplinary fields are ingrained in areas of behavioral science, philosophy, psychology, ontology, and sociology. These fields use models to build organizational culture, create positive work environments, encourage collaboration and teamwork, change management, innovation, adult education, and human resource management, as well as many other proven methods and models to improve relationships, performance, and productivity (Rothwell, Stavros & Sullivan, 2016).
“Defined in simple terms, an OD intervention is a planned, participative change effort. When regarded in context, it is the implementation phase of the Action Research Model or the implementation phase of the Appreciative Inquiry Model” (Rothwell, Imroz & Bakhshandeh, 2021, p. 5).
There are five key phases for OD implementation:
1. Entry. The initial contact among the client and the OD practitioner begins with discussions about presenting problems, exploring potential causes of problems, possibilities, and opportunities for altering situations. In addition, discussions begin concerning expectations, limitations, process, scope, cost and schedule.
2. Diagnosis & Assessment. This is the phase for collecting data, using proven diagnoses models for finding facts through collaborations among an organization’s management, workforce and the OD practitioner about what is real and what is perception concerning the presenting issues.
3. Analysis & Feedback. In this phase, the OD practitioner will submit the analysis and findings to the client or the management system through a feedback session and the feedback report, explaining the process and underlining the real issues based on collected data and analysis.
4. Presenting Solutions. During this time, the OD practitioner will present change intervention design, and implementation and action plan for the proposed solution(s) for correcting the issues, such as improving performance, closing productivity gaps, increasing revenue, enhancing effectiveness, or decreasing turnover.
5. Evaluation. This phase includes the process of accumulating formative and summative evaluation data to define whether the change intervention efforts are accomplished and the intended goals and achieved. The OD practitioner will provide a written evaluation comparing the outcomes to a set of key success indicators and provide recommendations for maintenance and future improvement.
(Rothwell, Stavros & Sullivan, 2016).
OD Change Interventions
OD Change intervention is a systematic, non-linear approach for empowering, educating, and guiding organizations and their employees and members to increase their productivity, performance, efficiency, and effectiveness while decreasing turnover and other organization’s HR issues, through the application of proven methodology and models and behavioral sciences.
OD Change intervention offers room for organizations to transform their culture and management approaches through designing an empowering Vision, a Mission based on a set of Values and Principles that bring the whole organization and its member to work cohesively. The organizational change in any levels can enhance the organization's sustainability, alter its organizational structure in a productive and positive way, and support them by inventing a sustainable work environment to keep their employees and customers satisfied.
Levels of OD Change Interventions
There are eight levels of organization change, which also define specialized professional OD practitioners who are involved with the interventions change efforts. Organization Development practitioners usually specialize in one, two, or combinations of the following eight level of change interventions.
Individual-Based Change Effort. When there is a need for a change among individuals. Individual coaching, Executive Coaching or Managerial Coaching are some of examples of individual-based interventions.
Dyadic and Triadic-Based Change Efforts. When there is a need for a change among two or three people, such as two colleagues, a manager and a subordinate, or two or three supervisors. The combinations are dependent on the situation. Building relationships, establishing rapport and Communicating effectively are examples of this level of change intervention.
Team-Based Change Efforts. When there is a need for a change for the improvement of teams or a group of people working together for a common cause. Team training, team building and collaborative work environment are examples of such interventions.
Departmental or Divisions Change Efforts. When there is a need for change in a department or division within the organization. Vision, mission and value-based interventions, productivity and high-performance coaching are sufficient for these types of change efforts. Plus, with proper modifications, the same types of change intervention approaches in levels two and three are beneficiary.
Organizational Change. When there is a need for a change in the organization. Very similar to the fourth level approach when the organization is not a large-scale operation. There are specific models of change efforts that are specifically designed for a large-scale change intervention.
Industry or Community-Based Change. When there is a need for a large and necessary change or enhancement in an industry or a community. This intervention is also known as community development.
National Change. When there is a need for a nation and its population to be proud and honored as their country’s citizens and feel positive about their country and to work together for their nation's common objectives.
International or Global Change. When there is a need for a change on the international level among all countries.
(Rothwell, Imroz & Bakhshandeh, 2021)
Examples of OD Change Interventions
Most change intervention initiatives have components of each category and might overlap to other categories. For that reason, the organization’s human resources, human resources development, and training & development professionals must pay attention and ensure that any proposed OD solution is supported and aligned with the specific organization’s strategic objectives.
Typically, OD change intervention initiatives are generated and characterized as follows:
Organizations’ restructuring, management structure, downsizing, designing quality of work life, redesigning work structure, mergers, internal & external environment influences & relationships, and changing work processes.
Human Resources (HR)
Onboarding, high turnover, talent management, coaching & mentoring, team building, organization’s reputation, interpersonal, team & group issues.
Human Resource Development (HRD).
Performance improvement, talent development, employee engagement, workplace learning and performance, work environment experience, performance management, training & development, career development, increase productivity, succession planning, role of manager-as-coach, and diversity & inclusion awareness.
Work process, work procedures, process consulting, increase productivity, low performance, job performance standards and key performance indicators.
Culture change, leadership development, coaching culture, organization transformation, talent attraction & talent retention, and organization’s responsibility.
Rothwell, William, J., Imroz, Sohel, M., and Bakhshandeh, Behnam (2021). Organization Development Interventions; Executing Effective Organizational Change. Boca Raton, FL: Routledge; Taylor & Francis Group.
Rothwell, William, J., Stavros, Jacqueline M., and Sullivan, Roland L. (2016). Practicing Organization Development: Leading Transformation and Change (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.