What Is Organization Development?

Organization development (OD) is an effort that focuses on improving an organization’s capability through the alignment of strategy, structure, people, rewards, metrics, and management processes. It is a science-backed, interdisciplinary field rooted in psychology, culture, innovation, social sciences, adult education, human resource management, change management, organization behavior, and research analysis and design, among others.

Organization development involves an ongoing, systematic, long-range process of driving organizational effectiveness, solving problems, and improving organizational performance.

What Is the Difference Between OD and Human Resources (HR)?

Many OD interventions relate to human resource management and talent management. While HR initiatives focus on people practices, organization development zooms out to consider multiple inputs and tools that cut across the breadth and depth of the organization. OD is more holistic and strategic whereas HR is operational. Like talent development, sometimes OD functions are under the HR umbrella.

OD Strategy: Five Phases

The process used by OD practitioners to design and implement organizational development strategies is structured in five phases:

  1. The entry represents the initial contact between consultant and client in which they present, explore, and identify the problem, opportunities, or situation. The output of this phase is an engagement contract or project plan that establishes mutual expectations and preliminary agreements about project scope (such as time, money, and resources).
  2. Diagnosis (assessment) represents the fact-finding phase. It is a collaborative data gathering process between organizational stakeholders and the consultant in which relevant information about the presenting problem is gathered, analyzed, and reviewed.
  3. Feedback represents the return of analyzed information to the client or client system; exploration of the information for understanding, clarity, and accuracy; review of preliminary agreements about scope and resource requirements; and the beginning of ownership of data by the client. The output of this phase is typically an action plan that outlines the change solutions to be developed, along with defined success indicators based on the information and data analysis.
  4. The solution represents the design, development, and implementation of the solution or set of solutions meant to correct the problems, close gaps, improve or enhance organizational performance and effectiveness, or seize opportunities. Outputs may include a communication plan, a role-and-responsibility matrix, a training plan, a training curriculum, an implementation plan, a risk management plan, an evaluation plan, or a change management plan.
  5. Evaluation represents the continuous process of collecting formative and summative evaluation data to determine whether the initiative is meeting the intended goals and achieving defined success indicators. Outputs generally include an evaluation report with recommendations for continuous improvement.

What Are Some Organization Development Initiatives?

Organization development initiatives are typically categorized as:

  • Human process initiatives that include team building, interpersonal and group process approaches, and coaching
  • Techno-structural initiatives that include restructuring organizations (for example, mergers and acquisitions, flexible work design, downsizing, business process engineering, total quality management, quality of work-life, Six Sigma, and Agile)
  • Human resource management initiatives that include employee engagement, employee experience, performance management, employee development, succession planning, coaching and mentoring, career development, and diversity awareness
  • Strategic initiatives include organization transformation, culture change, leadership development, and attraction and retention initiatives.

Most initiatives have elements of each category. OD professionals should ensure that any OD solution is aligned to specific strategic objectives.

Skills for an OD practitioner

OD practitioners concern themselves with strategic planning and thinking, so these skills are a must for them. Being a change expert, experienced process facilitator, business advisor, credible strategist, and informed consultant as the major capabilities of OD professionals. Some of the skills included are data collection and analysis, project management, management skills, emotional intelligence, business acumen, communication, collaboration, and mentoring and coaching skills.

OD practitioners create an alignment of strategy, structure, people, rewards, metrics, and management processes to improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace. These practitioners identify and solve problems that have to do with organizational systems that impact engagement, productivity, and performance, and they may also lead initiatives that benefit individual growth, such as career development, management, and leadership development, and performance improvement

OD professionals are adept at designing and implementing employee engagement strategies; facilitating communication between employees and work groups; and articulating and codifying talent and leadership principles, values, and competencies that guide the organization’s culture.

*Excerpts are collected from various credible sources on organizational development knowledgebase and own experience is added to0.

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  • The word facilitation is derived from the Latin ‘facile’ which, simply translated, means ‘to make easy’. A facilitator is therefore someone who makes something easy for others. So how is facilitation different from other professional services that might also make something easier, such as consultancy, training or mediation? And how is facilitation different from other group leadership roles, such as chairing? Clarity of definition can help to manage expectations on the sides of the client, the group and the facilitator, and so achieve better outcomes.

    A classic if lengthy definition is that of Roger Schwarz:

    Group facilitation is a process in which a person, whose selection is acceptable to all members of the group, is substantively neutral, and has no decision-making authority, diagnoses and intervenes to help a group improve how it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions, to increase the group’s effectiveness.” – Roger Schwarz.

    This definition addresses three critical dimensions – the role or stance of the facilitator, what he or she does to make things easy; and to what purpose.

    Firstly, the facilitator is neutral to the content and task of the group. That is not to say that the facilitator cannot or should not have any content expertise or any stake in the outcome of the task, but that the group must be able to have confidence that the facilitator will not allow these to influence the group’s work and decisions. In contrast, the consultant provides expert advice and the trainer imparts knowledge or skills, both contributing content expertise.

    Secondly, what the facilitator does is to diagnose and intervene in how the group works. In other words, he or she contributes process rather than content expertise. The facilitator is not neutral to process, but indeed is granted responsibility for the group’s process, by the group. A leader cannot impose a facilitator on a group without its consent.

    Excerpts are from Source: https://martingilbraith.com/facilitation-and-how-it-can-add-value/

    The Flight Of Harmony For Motivated Organizations

    In nature, when
    birds have to fly to a warmer climate to escape bitterly cold weather, they
    flock together and start their journey as a group. The success of the journey
    depends on the group: if an individual bird does not join the group, it cannot
    reach the destination on its own.
    When geese fly
    together, each goose provides additional lift and reduces air resistance for
    the goose flying behind it.  Consequently, by flying together in
    a v-formation, scientists estimate that the whole flock can fly about 70%
    farther with the same amount of energy than if each goose flew alone.  Geese have discovered that they can
    reach their destination more quickly and with less energy expended when they
    fly together in formation. When people work together harmoniously on teams,
    sharing common values and a common destination, they all arrive at the
    destination quicker and easier, because they are lifted up by the energy and
    enthusiasm of one another.
    Individual Viz Part of the whole
    These birds fly in a
    particular formation of ‘V’ shape, with an appropriate space between them as
    they fly. If they fly too close to each other, their wings get entangled; they
    lose their balance and fall. If they remain too far from each other, the formation
    cannot be created properly, and they are not able to ride the currents of air,
    which help to propel them in their flight. Furthermore, the leader of the
    formation does not remain the leader throughout the whole flight, but moves
    back and allows another to take its place. This repositioning continues
    throughout the flight until the destination is reached, allowing individual
    birds to contribute to the success of the journey.
    The reality of life is that we are
    individuals within a collective whole. Just like the birds, we are all a part
    of an unlimited Flight of Harmony.

    Just as there are two faces to one coin; a leader who
    wishes to have a successful team
    understands the  freedom
    and space needed for the existence of each member’s unique individuality
    , as well as the closeness and set boundaries needed for the existence of the
    group or collective organization. One cannot exist without
    the other.

    How to
    achieve the perfect balance in Individual Space Viz Part of the whole?
    Organizations which have people who have almost met
    the bottom four of the “Hierarchy of Needs” in the maslow’s motivation
    theory, may well choose to develop a culture that leads their associate  employees to meet their top most need i.e.
    Self-Actualization” and motivate their employees to  develop spiritually towards
    self-actualization (the top most ‘need’ in the maslow’s theory of motivation ).
    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

    Benefits to the organizations having individuals who are developing spiritually are obvious from the
    following reasons:

    1.       They feel a
    personal sense of value.
    2.       They clearly
    recognize their uniqueness and have the feeling that there is the freedom to be
    whatever they choose to be.
    3.       At the same
    time, their sense of personal independence allows them to come close to others
    and work with them.
    4.       They do not
    have selfish independence. They get close to others because they have found
    fulfilment in their own self.
    Someone who has truly found the value of the self
    above and beyond labels, name, fame and approval can effectively cooperate
    within the collective or group and interact appropriately. Such people not only
    feel themselves to be a part of the whole but, even more importantly, the group
    or collective feels them to be a part of the whole. 
  • Ever wondered why does a sailor try
    to get to the eye of the storm if ever caught up in a sea storm while sailing?

    A wise sea captain, caught in a tropical storm knows that if he holds
    his vessel on the periphery, it will get hurled from one side to the other. If
    he can reach the eye of the storm, he will enter a place of stillness. The
    storm will then subside and the ship can continue its journey.
    I came across the real life story of a courageous lady who followed her passion
    for animals and turned a financial crisis into an opportunity.  She started a unique business of mobile
    petting zoo during the last economic downturn in USA. This idea came to her as
    a blessing in disguise to support her passion for her pet animals when her
    husband lost his job and she did not have enough money to take care of her pet
    She set
    out to create a mobile petting zoo and
    aimed at conducting 10 events per annum, just enough to fund her pets care. But
    the idea became such a big hit that last year she conducted 700 events ! Now
    she has a big team to manage this unique business truly driven by her passion
    and love for animals. She had the option of making a practical decision of
    giving away her love for animals and may be sell them off to get money to run
    the house. But she chose  to remain
    stable at that stormy moment and went with the option guided by her inner
    conscious voice which was the mobile petting zoo business.
    similar example to quote here is that of a blind
    musician named Raju Rao who is from Bhopal, India. Despite his visual
    impartment, this multi talented musician writes lyrics of songs, composes
    music, plays many musical instruments and even sings ghazal and sufi music. Not
    ending at that he has performed with some renowned artists like Ghulam Ali,
    Kavita Krishnamurthy and Anuradha Paudwal among others. All this happened only
    after he had no opportunity with other music studios  and hence, decided to open his own. This is
    again an example of turning a crisis into an opportunity.
    affirms that when everything around us is changing in a very intense way and
    against us then the best place for us to seek help is not on the outside
    circle, but deep within the self, where we can get in touch with self, the
    inner  being to find strength and
    stability, then come out with creative solution using lateral thinking and
    do  whatever it is  that we need to based on our inner conscious
    voice .
    We are always safe at the eye of the
    storm that means in any adverse situation if we can focus within we will find
    solution to be safe and protected to sail on smoothly in life.


  • Rainbow Enclosing the Aircraft Shadow
    Ever wondered why reflections cannot be the exact same realities of
    Recently, I came across this interesting
    picture shown above, shared by my college friend. While on her way back home,
    to USA from India, she saw a pretty rainbow in the sky. With excitement, she took
    out her camera to capture that beautiful moment, just when she noticed another smaller
    aircraft, flying parallel to the one she was travelling in. It took her only a
    few seconds; to realize that it wasn’t another aircraft, but the shadow of the same aircraft she was
    travelling in!
    Similar to her perception which lasted only a few seconds; don’t we all want to
    see a part of us in others; in our friends, relatives, co-workers or our
    children? Or isn’t this how we perceive our shadow in other people to be a reality?
    Even when we are building new relationships or trying to be in sync with the
    existing ones, we are constantly trying to find a piece of ourselves in the
    other. Quite often, we try to identify their traits, habits, choices and approach
    etc. with that of ours.
    Unfortunately, most often the people who fall
    prey to such perceptions are our children. Just because our children are with
    us for the initial part of their life, (like a shadow) they really can’t be
    driven by our choices and habits. If we fail to accept the differences in their
    opinions choices, likes and capabilities then we definitely have chosen to
    invite frictions in our relationship. This friction starts seeping in, when our
    kids get into ‘teenage’ and it gets really
    rough if we still do not identify their differences and give them the freedom
    of choice to ‘be’ just ‘who’ they are. A recent example, of this failure by a parent was reported
    in the Times of  India Newspaper last
    week(TOI – June, 2015), where an engineering third year student committed
    suicide by jumping from top floor of his residence building because he wanted
    to study sociology and he was forced to study engineering by his  parents.
    This doesn’t mean we do not discipline our children
    for what is ‘right’, but at the same time we need to agree to disagree sometimes and understand that each and every soul on this earth is unique
    and has a unique part to play on this world stage, in this eternal drama called,
    To have a strong, healthy and a lasting relationship, we need to
    realize that every individual is as different as his/her finger prints or
    retina impressions and; so are the soul impressions (traits, karmic accounts) of
    each actor on this world stage different.
    If we accept people without any resistance
    for “who” they are and enjoy the diverse human nature, having diverse
    habits, traits, capabilities  and choices,
    then we surely can excel in our interpersonal skills at work and at home. After
    all, we all love colors in the rainbow, don’t you?


    Hence, the beauty of life lies in diversity.
  • Why do we all have attachments
    with “My Firsts” in our life?

    Quite often we hear out people connecting in the middle of a
    talk with their “firsts” like my first job, my first car, my first house, my first
    pet etc. etc. 

    Why do people adore their firsts more than what they have
    now which is much better over the antique pieces that they used to have?

    I still remember how my first job gave me a boost of being
    somebody and how my first car gave me loads of joy of being independent on the
    wheels. The firsts are always special in our lives no matter how
    tiny or obsolete they may look now or even then
    . But we always keep our firsts
    in our fondest of memories. 🙂
    While doing a retrospect on the reasons of this fondness of people over
    firsts, I reconcile here as some of the reasons that came out for my attachments towards my firsts is firstly, the feeling of “self-worth” or fulfillment that the firsts gave are much more at an index level
    than the next ones in our life. Secondly,
    the effort that went into making it
    happen is much more than the next ones, this effort quotient is most definitely
    directly proportionate to how we value something that we get in our life. Lastly and most importantly it’s the desire or the passion to get there as a milestone is what is making it hold a very special place in our life’s journey.
    So, if we want to collect more such fond memories similar to
    our firsts then we continuously need to challenge and break our own limits that
    we set for ourselves in whatever that we are doing and keep on flying to
    explore the new and direct our efforts towards it that makes it worthwhile to
    achieve and this is how we reach our peak potential i.e. self-actualization and hence, I Believe I can Fly.
  • When you come to a point
    where you have no need to impress anybody, your freedom will begin.
    Yes, true freedom lies with you ! ! ! When you choose NOT to be
    compelled by judging your progress and self-worth by comparing with that of
    others, you can clearly prioritize what’s important for YOU. 
    Quite often we are not happy or content with where we are and we
    postpone our happiness to our next goal or our happiness gets stolen by success
    of others. But little do we realize then that we are actually getting into a
    cage of endless run and escaping our own freedom of choosing to live life the
    way we want and this is how we end our freedom.
    You can drive the car of your life safely out there in the traffic
    of journey of your life and decide the comfortable speed for yourself when you
    realize this truth that you are the driver who can choose not to be in a race
    and you can choose to enjoy your drive with just what you have and just where you are ! ! ! You can exactly distinguish between what you need and what you want.Then you can clearly see your options and decide what suits you best. That is when your true freedom begins with you. 

    Have a safe and happy journey of life. 🙂
  • ArchanaPingle: Essentials for Success in The Corporate Life: When it comes to success in the corporate life – everyone has their own definition of it, as each one is looking at it from their level. So there is no definite definition of success. But in essence mathematically you can say that “Success is about reaching from point A to point B.”

    Nowadays, most of the so called successful breed in the knowledge economy is passed out from Best of the Tech. collages and B-Schools, to even further glorify their path they would also not leave any stone upturned in their learning and  would surely attempt to get their lessons from the best of the management gurus in the world. Just as you have the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) essential for the success of any product, they say that you need to have the 4 Ps(Passion, Plan, Patience and Perseverance)  in you for your own success too.
    But the question is what happened to the success of the some of the most gloried of them all who were like celebrities in the Indian IT world ! ! ! To name a few Mr. Ramalinga Raju (Satyam CEO and Founder) and Phaneesh Murthy (iGate CEO)? Did these folks not have all the ingredients mentioned above to be successful? What made the whole building of their success collapse ??
    Answer to these questions in my opinion is: The essential foundation to one’s success is 3 Cs and that is Character, Congruent Communication and Compassionate Leadership.


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