A Comprehensive Definition of Organization Development
The theory of Organization Development relates to an organization’s process and efforts to change the organization for the better. The process includes several steps that must be performed as a continuous cycle to keep the organization at its most efficient in order to achieve the goal of ongoing success.
Organization Development is an organization’s ongoing exercise in planning processes that span the organization, in order to execute effective change in the organization. This process includes a diagnosis of how the organization and its employees function harmoniously or not. This is followed by identification of the specifics of successes and failures within the organization through data analysis. Armed with this information, planning for necessary changes within the organization may begin. Once a plan is in place, it must be executed. Finally, after this implementation, the organization must again make assessments to determine if the desired change was realized. Organization Development is not a one-size fits all solution for an organization, nor is it a singular process; but one that is ongoing and continually adapting to achieve organizational success.
Organization Development Opportunity
Often Organization Development begins in an organization when an opportunity for improvement is acknowledged by management and a positive change is sought. The function of Organization Development is to focus attention on improving the abilities of the organization and its employees to allow the organization to make positive changes from within to achieve its ultimate goal of success. Whether an organization utilizes the contracted services of an OD practitioner from outside or an OD practitioner that is already on its team, the functions and processes along the way will be similar. The first step taken is known in the Organization Development world as entering and contracting.
Entering and contracting is very much as it sounds. It starts with making clear the organization’s issue that needs improvement, deciding who will represent the organization in the process, and choosing an OD professional that is equipped with the appropriate experience and know-how to guide the process within the organization. Following these decisions, comes the contracting phase, in which, the parties involved establish how the Organization Development process will move forward. Roles are determined, expectations are stated, timetables are determined, and rules are outlined. This phase can be as formal or informal, depending on the desires of the organization, but most organization find that the more detailed the contracting phase the more likely the process is to stay on track and be successful.
After the entering and contracting phase is formulated, the second action to be performed is known in OD as diagnosing. This process is the examination and determination of how the organization is functioning in the present – right now. The OD practitioner and the organization’s team collect the relevant data via interviews, surveys, observations, and reports. Once the data is collected, it is analyzed through the lens of the appropriate diagnostic models which help to recognize and identify trustworthy data. There are several diagnostic models that are commonly used; diagnostic models including the Open System, organizational-level, group-level, and individual level. The OD professional must make the selection of diagnostic model that is most significant and will yield the most advantageous information for the organization. Ideally the model will be selected prior to the data collection so that the data can be collected more accurately, but the data collection can be done and then paired with the most effective diagnostic model. With this fresh data and subsequent analysis the OD practitioner and the organization team can determine what is working well and where improvements are needed. From this diagnosis, the necessary intervention can be developed.
Organization Development Planning
The Organization Development intervention is the development of the plan to be used to generate change that will allow the organization to improve both the organization and its employees and develop more positive interaction between the two in order to drive success. In order for the Organization Development to be successful, the intervention must suit the needs of the organization, founded on fundamental knowledge of the desired results, and be assured that the change-agent can convey the vision to all of the members of the organization. Intervention, execution, and change management must go hand in hand. The fitting intervention must be found for the unique organization from among the four major types of Organization Development intervention: Human Process, Techno-structural, Human Resource Management, and Strategic. After the suitable intervention is chosen, the OD profession must be alert to the organizations readiness and ability to make the changes, the cultural environment’s potential influence, and the expertise of the change agent. Once the execution of the intervention has begun, the process of transition requires close attention and must be carefully managed so that the change momentum can be maintained and resistance to the process can be overcome. As these guidelines are followed, Organization Development can be the coordinated transition by which an organization accomplishes effective and lasting change.
The final stage of Organization Development is the evaluation of the implemented changes and their potential incorporation (known as institutionalizing) into the organization. At this point feedback is gathered and evaluated to determine if the desired outcome for the organization’s improvement has been successfully achieved. If the desired outcome has not been achieved, the OD practitioner and the organization team must return to the previous steps and go through the process again until anticipated result is accomplished. If on the other hand, it is found that the change is effective, the changes will then be made a permanent function of the organization. These changes must become a part of the shared culture of the organization bringing the organization and its employees together. As employees are included in these positive changes, they become more dedicated, more loyal, and ultimately more flexible as change is implemented. With the leadership of the organization and the organization’s employees on board with the institutionalization of the changes; the ultimate goal of organizational success is achieved more efficiently and more rapidly.
The Organization Development process typically begins when someone, management or employee, uncover a need for improvement within the organization. The anticipated results of the OD process are to accomplish positive change for the organization and the employees; as well as any stakeholders related to the organization. For the process to accomplish a best case scenario outcome, everyone within the organization needs to back the process. The OD process begins with the entry of an OD professional, either internal or external, and outlining of the contract between the organization and the OD practitioner. The diagnosis phase follows with information gathering and analysis in order to formulate an intervention. With a plan in hand, the OD professional and the organization team implement the recommended changes within the organization. After the changes have been implemented, they are analyzed again for effectiveness and the determination of their success or failure. If successful, the OD intervention changes become a component of the function of the organization. It is evident that the Organization Development process is unique to each organization, customized just for it, and a process that must be ongoing and adapting constantly to keep the organization moving forward successfully.