No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Review: the CIPD’s organisation development conference


Jon Ingham reports from the CIPD's recent organisation development conference and examines the opportunitites for L&D.

I attended the CIPD’s Organisation Development (OD) conference towards the end of last month and have been reflecting since on the implications of this event for learning and development practitioners.

Firstly, however, it might be worth describing some of the highlights of the conference. These included a fast paced presentation from Dr Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge who defined OD as a discipline which recognises that organisations are living systems (rather than funeral parlours!). It is based on respect for human differences, a commitment to all forms of social justice and belief in lifelong learning.

"L&D also needs to plan for, and enable, the learning of groups, teams, communities and networks, and potentially of the organisation it works within as a whole."

And it uses group and human dynamic processes from applied behavioural science theories, research and methods to facilitate movement of individuals, groups and organisations. It is not psychoanalytical, that is it focuses on the relationships across and between individual people, rather than being concerned only about the individual people themselves.
I also enjoyed Linda Holbeche’s session referring to the evolution of OD into organisational effectiveness (OE), largely through its closer integration with the HR discipline and what Linda sees as HR’s strong focus on process. OE concerns how effective an organisation is in achieving the outcomes that it intends to produce, and is ultimately focused on producing shareholder value.
In one of the discussion groups, we had an interesting conversation about change management, and what this looks like when it is informed by Cheung-Judge’s and Holbeche’s insights, as well as the broader perspectives of the OD practitioner. 

For example, I think we agreed that OD-based change has to involve conversation between people about what the change should involve, rather than just how the change can be supported, and that it certainly cannot just be based upon following a series of predetermined steps.
We did not talk so much about L&D's link to OD/OE, which with hindsight, feels like a surprising and important omission. However the link between these two fields clearly needs to be about an integrated focus on learning across and between people, rather than just the learning of the individual people themselves - which tends to be L&D’s main concern. L&D also needs to plan for, and enable, the learning of groups, teams, communities and networks, and potentially of the organisation it works within as a whole.
This links with Training Zone’s recent focus on social learning, only here the social applies to the unit undertaking learning, rather than the way that the learning is achieved. It is social because it is about a unit learning together rather than just about the individuals within a unit learning the same thing. And this sort of social-outcome learning can also be supported by social-activity learning, whether this activity is the use of social media, or simply more social real-life ways of learning, such as the unconference that Connecting HR is running later this month.

Events such as this are social-activity learning because, by dispensing with formality and the hierarchy imposed by bringing in speakers, they enable all participants to share their knowledge and insight with each other. But they are also social-outcome learning, because they enable the whole group of participants to have learned and transformed together.
It is this even broader combination, and integration, of real-life, physical and virtual-life plus social media based learning, together with OD, HR, change management and other disciplines too (particularly workplace design), which I think offers the potential for true organisational effectiveness.
L&D practitioners will play a critical role in the development of this relatively new field, and I hope that readers of this article will want to engage their counterparts in HR, OD and the rest of their businesses to support it.

Jon Ingham is an insight-based HR and OD consultant. He focuses on helping HR leaders to increase their contribution and impact through strategic and innovative approaches in workforce planning, talent management, value-based measurement and HR capability development. He is a high-profile user of social media himself and he posts regularly to two blogs, Strategic HCM and Social Advantage. He is also a founder of the social media-based HR community, ConnectingHR.

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!