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Seb Anthony

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Organisational development what does it take to make it effective?


Organisational development is a topic which is gaining in interest? Emperors new cloths?

Increasingly in recent months I have noticed a growth in the use of the term organisational development. Is this just a new name for what we have been doing for many years or is this a real shift that interventions are being looked at in a strategic way?

If so, are we looking at OD activity as interventions or as a framework for growth, development and change? Is OD truly holistic and are we using diagnostic tools and processes which span the whole organisation?

Mike Morrison

3 Responses

  1. OD
    You ask a lot of very valid questions. I think it is partly a reflection of a shift in thinking about organisational change, growth and learning and partly a vogue term to rebrand what many have been doing for years.
    I do think it seriously different to the humanistic OD of the 1950s-60s and the TQM and career planning agendas of the 1980s. But I am not sure in today’s world there is any really common agreement about what is and what is not OD. Worse still I think there are territorial and status disputes around OD, HR, KM, L&D, and probably a few other two letter acronyms too!
    I like to think that the best OD interventions and strategies are holistic, progressive and worthwhile. However, I suspect that there are also a fair few people who are latching on to the latest trend and maybe don’t have the depth of experience to turn the rhetoric into reality.

  2. Od function can change with location
    MIke I think this is a question that has been asked many times over the years….. and the answer depended on where you sat in an organisation! HR had its “take”…. usually around training, learning & development interventions; OD to me has always been about an alignment across people, culture, systems & business processes. Yes I believe it is more strategic than “training / HR response”…. because it looks at the strategic goals of the organisation, and alignment across all the components to achieve those goals. Sometimes an OD unit is located in HR (and in my experience that OD unit’s responses are very much influenced by the HR culture. At times this is the correct place for OD depeneding ont he circumstances.) But more often OD is attache dto the area where strategic planning and performance is managed and the rsponses from this location are much more holistic. I have also seen OD located in ICT areas – the important factor is the environment / situation of the organisation; and the strategic change they are looking for.


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