Demystifying Organisation Development

One way of improving the success of change initiatives within organisations is to involve all stakeholders to co-create the vision of the future and to manage the change process in a participative way. Organisation development (OD) lies at the heart of this.

Rapid and frequent change from consumer demands, innovation and technology is making change feel constant.

And whilst at times some wish that this rollercoaster ride would stabilise for a while, the reality is, we need to get even better at riding the twists and turns as we go.

Whilst our own research survey – The Singapore Management Agenda – reports that that change initiatives are relatively successful, many organisations still use a traditional approach where it is created by the few and then thrust upon the many.

One way of improving the success of change initiatives is to involve all stakeholders to co-create the vision of the future and to manage the change process in a participative way. Organisation development (OD) lies at the heart of this.

What is organisation development?

Ask any manager or HR specialist and you’ll rarely get a simple answer as it is a term that is often bandied about in organisations. But whilst the effective execution of OD is often complex, the principles are relatively straightforward.

There is no shortage of definitions, but we would describe OD as a planned, organisation-wide approach to improving organisational effectiveness.  

OD is a holistic approach which is rooted in a sound theoretical and research base. Its purpose is to align strategy, people and processes; using what is called ‘a whole systems approach’. The emphasis is on learning and building the internal capability of the organisation so that it can become self-sufficient and able to continuously evolve and renew itself. 

One of the widely-used models to help one understand the elements in OD practice is the Burke, Stringer & Litwin (1989, 1992 & 2002) model. This model illustrates the interconnectedness of the various components of an organisational system.

The role of OD is to draw attention to the relationships between these components, and to the relationships between individuals and groups within that system.

By doing this we can begin to understand how shifting one element within the system will have an impact on another. Without this, trying to solve organisational problems at their face value will lead to wasted efforts.

Developing OD skills

At the heart of an effective practitioner are core skills of facilitation, influencing and consulting combined with expertise in organisation design, systems thinking and large group interventions.

Equally as important is the mind-set of OD practitioners and their ability to guide others through complexity and ambiguity. OD is about participation, inclusion and collaboration and the most effective practitioners live and breathe these values through every intervention they make.

So should you pursuing OD? Well do you want a workforce that is sustainable? Are you looking for collaboration and adaptability? Are you prepared to invest in leadership development that is effective? The answer is yes, isn’t it?

 

Written by Simon Gott, Senior Consultant, Roffey Park Institute

 

Roffey Park is launching The OD Practitioners Programme in Singapore beginning in February 2015.  For more information visit http://www.roffeypark.com/executive-education/training-courses-skills-development/od-practitioners-programme-singapore/

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