What is OD and how can it help?

No clear direction, management imposing ever tighter controls, increasingly disengaged work force, high levels of politics, stress and sickness and/or poor productivity?


If you recognise any of these symptoms, then organisational development (OD) could probably help.


OD is a holistic approach to improving organisational effectiveness that focuses on the alignment of organisational direction, often expressed in a vision, mission, strategy or purpose, with organisational design and culture.


Direction / Purpose – where are we heading and maybe why?
Inspirational, clear and well communicated direction / purpose play an important part in guiding and prioritising organisational effort.


Designwhat tools do we need to get there?
Organisational design includes its structure, processes and systems. These are all interconnected and therefore need to be considered as a whole to understand how they support achievement of the vision/strategy.


Culture/valueshow do we need to behave to get there?
The existing culture and values of organisations determine how its people behave in the delivery of services. This can be the most challenging aspect of organisations to understand and change.


Each component plays a vital part in organisational success and issues with any of them or misalignment between them can result in sub-optimal performance.


A highly innovative tech company based on the product leadership value discipline, for example, would probably benefit from flexible systems that support collaborative working and a relatively flat hierarchy with highly motivated self-directed work teams.


A company focused on operational excellence delivering a fixed range of services or products at minimum cost, on the other hand would probably require less flexible processes to minimise variability and a more compliance based culture to ensure that any changes to processes are carefully managed.


Misalignment or issues with any of the three components can generate numerous and complex symptoms. And as with all human groupings including families we can sometimes become blind to the dynamics within our organisations and therefore struggle to understand what is going on or find solutions.


Coming from outside your organisation OD practitioners can often have a much clearer view of what is going on and could be seen in medical terms as a GP, being able to make initial diagnoses and help rectify many issues. When more complex issues present themselves, then much like the medical world, referrals can be made to specialists; for issues related to culture/behaviour, for example, there are a number of specialist roles including organisational psychologists and coaches.


Have you experienced any issues that could have benefited from OD intervention or have you had experience of working with OD practitioners? If you have any thoughts or comments, please share below or send me a LinkedIn connection request.

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