Organizational Development

With just a few moments’ reflection, you are likely to be able to name dozens of organizations that you belong to or that influence you. Now consider an organization that you currently do not belong to, but one that you were dissatisfied with at some point in the past. What was it about that organization that made the experience dissatisfying? Perhaps you left a Job because you did not have the opportunity to contribute that you would have liked. Maybe it was a dissatisfying team atmosphere, or you were not appreciated or recognized for the time and energy that you dedicated to the job.

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It could have been a change to your responsibilities, the team, or the organization’s processes. Some people report that they did not feel a larger sense of purpose at work, they did not have control or autonomy over their work, or they did not find an acceptable path to growth and career development. Perhaps you’ve witnessed or been part of an organization that has failed for some reason. Perhaps It went out of business or it disbanded because it could no longer reach its goals. You’ve likely had some excellent experiences in organizations, too.

Some of these organizations function quite well, whereas others struggle. Some are quite rewarding environments in which to work or participate, but in others, organizational members are frustrated, neglected, and disengaged. The purpose of this book is to introduce you to the field of organization development, an area of academic study and professional practice focused on making organizations better;that Is, more effective places in which to work and participate.

By learning about the field of organization development and the process by which it is conducted, you will be a more effective change agent inside the organizations to which you belong. Organization Development Defined Organization development (ODD) is an interdisciplinary field with contributions from business, industrial/organizational psychology, human resources management, communication, sociology, and many other disciplines. Not surprisingly, for a field with such diverse intellectual roots, there are many definitions of organization development.

Definitions can be illuminating as they point us in a direction and provide a shared context for mutual discussion, but they can also be constraining as certain concepts are inevitably left out with boundaries drawn to exclude some activities. What counts as ODD thus depends on the practitioner and the definition, and these definitions have changed over time. In a study of 27 definitions of organization development published since 1969, Egan (2002) found that there were as many as 60 different variables listed in those definitions. Nonetheless, there are some points on which definitions converge.

One of the most frequently cited definitions of ODD comes from Richard Backward (1969), an early leader in the field of ODD: Organization development is an effort (1) planned, (2) organizations, and (3) engaged from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health through (5) planned interventions in the organization’s “processes,” using behavioral-science knowledge. (p. 9) Backhand’s definition has many points that have survived the test of time, including his emphasis on organizational effectiveness, the use of behavioral science knowledge, and the inclusion of planned interventions in the organization’s functions.

Some critique this definition, however, for its emphasis on planned change (many organizational changes, and thus ODD efforts, are in response to environmental wreaths that are not so neatly planned) and its emphasis on the need to drive organizational change through top management. Many contemporary ODD Chapter 1 3 activities do not necessarily happen at the top management level, as increasingly organizations are developing less hierarchical structures.

A more recent definition comes from Burke and Bradford (2005): Based on (1) a set of values, largely humanistic; (2) application of the behavioral sciences; and (3) open systems theory, organization development is a systematized process of planned change aimed toward improving overall organization effectiveness by way of enhanced congruence of such eye organizational dimensions as external environment, mission, strategy, leadership, culture, structure, information and reward systems, and work policies and procedures. (p. 2) Finally, I offer a third: Organization development is the process of change through the use of interventions driven by social and behavioral science knowledge. These definitions include a number of consistent themes about what constitutes organization development. They propose that an outcome of ODD activities is organizational effectiveness. They also each stress the applicability of knowledge aimed through the social and behavioral sciences (such as sociology, business and management, psychology, and more) to organizational settings.

Change Is a Constant Pressure Perhaps the point on which most definitions agree is that the backdrop and purpose of organization development is change. As you have no doubt personally experienced, large-scale organizational change is rarely simple and met without skepticism. As Peter Sense writes, “Most of us know firsthand that change programs fail. We’ve seen enough flavor of the month’ programs ‘rolled out’ from top management to last a lifetime” (Sense et al. 1999, p. 6).

Because of its impact on the organizational culture and potential importance to the organization’s success, organizational change has been a frequent topic of interest to both academic and popular management thinkers. With change as the overriding context for ODD work, ODD practitioners develop interventions so that change can be developed and integrated into the organization’s functioning. To become effective, productive, and satisfying to members, organizations need to change.

It will come as no surprise to any observer of today’s organizations that change is a significant part of organizational life. Change is required at the organizational level as customers demand more, technologies are developed with a rapidly changing life cycle (especially high-tech products; Wilhelm, Dominant, & Lie, 2003), and investors demand results. This requires that organizations develop new strategies, economic structures, technologies, organizational structures, and processes. As a result, change is also required of individuals.

Employees learn new skills 4 as Jobs change or are eliminated. Organizational members are expected to quickly and flexibly adapt to the newest direction. Best-selling business books such as Who Moved My Cheese? Teach lessons in ensuring that one’s skills are current and that being comfortable and reluctant to adapt is a fatal flaw. For organizational members, change can be enlightening and exciting, and it can be hurtful, stressful, and frustrating. Whether or not we agree with the values behind “change as a constant,” it is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Whereas some decry an overabundance of change in organizations (Zorn, Christensen, & Cheney, 1999), others note that it is the defining characteristic of the current era in organizations ND that becoming competent at organizational change is a necessary and distinguishing characteristic of successful organizations (Lawyer & Worldly, 2006). There are, however, more- and less-effective ways to manage change. Creating and individuals can grow and develop is a central theme of the field of ODD.

When we speak of organization development, we are referring to the management of certain kinds of these changes, especially how people implement and are affected by them. What Organization Development Looks Like It may be easiest to understand what organization development is by understanding hat forms it takes and how it is practiced. The following are five examples of published case studies of ODD in action. Example 1: Increasing Employee Participation in a Public Sector Organization (O’Brien, 2002) Public sector organizations, it has been noted (Coral & Burns, 2001), often face additional special challenges in the management of change.

Bureaucratic structures, interfaces with regional governments and legislatures, political pressures, and legislative policies all complicate the implementation of new processes and changes to organizational practices. In the Republic of Ireland, a special initiative launched in the mid-sass aimed to reduce bureaucracy in the public sector to gain efficiency, improve customer service, and improve interdepartmental coordination. Many programs of this type have been launched in other organizations as typhoon mandates from senior management, causing frustration and decreased commitment among staff members who resisted the mandated changes.

One department wanted to do things differently. The offices were in the division of Social Welfare Services (SSW), a community welfare organization of 4,000 employees. Two Dublin offices (50 employees each) became the focus of this case. These offices chose to involve employees in the development of an initiative that would improve working conditions in the department as well as increase the employees’ capacity for managing changes.

A project steering team was formed, and they began by administering an employee survey to inquire about working relationships, career development, training, technology, and management. Follow-up 5 data gathering occurred in focus groups and individual interviews. The tremendous response rate of more than 90% gave the steering team a positive feeling about the engagement of the population, but the results of the survey indicated that a great deal of improvement was necessary. Many employees felt underrepresented, distrusted, and not included in key decisions or changes.

Relationships with management were also a concern as employees indicated few opportunities for communication with management and that Jobs had become routine and dull. The steering team invited volunteers (employees and their management) to work on several of the central problems. One team worked on the problem of communication the office layout to improve circulation and contact among employees. As the teams intended discussions, they began to question standard practices and inefficiencies and to suggest improvements, eventually devising a list of almost 30 actions that they could take.

Managers listened to employee suggestions, impressed by their insights. As one manager put it, “l have learned that a little encouragement goes a long way and people are capable of much more than given credit for in their normal everyday routine” (O’Brien, 2002, p. 450). The Joint management-employee working teams had begun to increase collaboration and interaction among the two groups, with each reaching new insights about the other.

As a result of the increased participation, “There appeared to be an enhanced acceptance of the change process, coupled with demands for better communications, increased involvement in decision making, changed relationships with supervisors and improved access to training and development opportunities” (p. 451). Example 2: Senior Management Coaching at Videophone (Eaton & Brown, 2002) Videophone is a multimillion-dollar global communications technology company headquartered in the United Kingdom and was an early leader in the mobile telephone market.

Faced with increasing competition, the company realized that in order to remain innovative and a leader in a challenging market, the culture of the organization would need to adapt accordingly. Specifically, senior management realized that its current “command and control” culture of blame and political games would hinder collaboration and mutual accountability needed to succeed in a competitive environment. Instead, the company wanted to encourage a culture of empowered teams who made their own decisions and shared learning and development, speed, and accountability.

Several culture initiatives were implemented, including the development of shared values, the introduction of IT yester that shared and exchanged information across major divisions that had hindered cross-functional learning, and the establishment of teams and a team- building program. To support the initiatives and encourage a new, collaborative management style, Videophone implemented a leadership coaching program. Through the program, top managers attended a program to learn skills in conducting performance reviews, helping employees set goals, and coaching teams.

Following the program, managers had one-on-one coaching sessions with a professional coach who worked 6 with participants to help them set coaching goals and reflect on how successfully hey were able to implement the skills learned in the program. As a result of the program, managers began to delegate more as teams started to solve problems themselves. Teams began to feel more confident in their decisions as managers trusted them. The authors attribute several subsequent company successes to the the other culture change initiatives that it supported. Cultural change takes time,” Eaton and Brown (2002, p. 287) note, and “traditional attitudes to management do not die away overnight. ” However, they point out that a gradual evolution took place and the new cultural values are now the standard. Example 3: Team Development in a Cancer Center (Black & Westwood, 2004) Health care workers who have the challenge of caring for critically ill patients experience stress, emotional exhaustion, and burnout at very high rates compared with workers in other fields.

Without social support from friends or other coworkers, many workers seek to leave the field or to reduce hours to cope with the emotional exhaustion of a demanding occupation. Consequently, many researchers have found that health care workers in particular need clear roles, professional autonomy, and social support to reduce burnout and turnover. In one Canadian cancer center, a senior administrator sought to address some of these needs by creating a leadership team that could manage its own work in a multidisciplinary team environment.

Team members would have professional autonomy and would provide social support to one another. Leaders volunteered or were chosen from each of the center’s main disciplines, such as oncology, surgery, nursing, and more. Organization development consultants were invited to lead workshops in which the team could develop cohesive trusting relationships and agree on working conditions that would reduce the potential for inflict among disciplines. In a series of three 2-day workshops over 3 months, the team participated in a number of important activities.

They did role-play and dramatic exercises in which they took on one another’s roles in order to be able to see how others see them. They completed surveys of their personal working styles to understand their own communication and behavior patterns. The team learned problem-solving techniques, they clarified roles, and they established group goals. Three months after the final workshop was conducted, the facilitators conducted interviews to assess the progress of the group.

All of the participants reported a better sense of belonging, a feeling of trust and safety with the team, and a better understanding of themselves and others with whom they worked. One participant said about a coworker, “l felt that [the workshops] connected me far differently to [coworker] than I would have ever had an opportunity to do otherwise, you know in a normal work setting” (Black & Westwood, 2004, p. 584). The consultants noted that participants wanted to continue group development on an ongoing basis. 7 Example 4: A Future Search Conference in a Northern California Community (Blue Sky

Productions, 1996) Santa Cruz County is located in Northern California, about an hour south of San Francisco. In the sass, the county had approximately 25,000 residents University of California, Santa Cruz opened its doors, and in the following years the county began to experience a demographic shift as people began to move to the area and real estate prices skyrocketed. By 1990, the population had reached 250,000 residents, and increasingly expensive real estate prices meant that many residents could no longer afford to live there. Affordable housing was especially a problem for the agricultural community.

A local leadership group had convened several conferences but could never agree on an approach to the housing problem. In the mid-sass, a consortium of leaders representing different community groups decided to explore the problem further by holding a future search conference. They invited 72 diverse citizens to a 3-day conference not only to explore the problem of affordable housing but also to address other issues that they had in common. The citizen groups represented a cross-section of the community, from young to old, executives to framework’s, and social services agencies.

Attendees were chosen to try o mirror the community as a “vertical slice” of the population. They called the conference “Coming Together as a Community Around Housing: A Search for Our Future in Santa Cruz County. ” At the conference, attendees explored their shared past as individuals and residents of the county. They discussed the history of the county and their own place in it. Next, they described the current state of the county and the issues that were currently being addressed by the stakeholder groups in attendance.

The process was a collaborative one, as one attendee said, “What one person would raise as an issue, another person would add to, and another person loud add to. ” There were also some surprises as new information was shared. One county social services employee realized that “there were a couple of things that I contributed that I thought everyone in the county knew about, and [l] listen[deed] to people respond to my input, [and say] ‘Oh, really? ” Finally, the attendees explored what they wanted to work on in their stakeholder groups.

They described a future county environment 10 years out and presented scenarios that took a creative form as imaginary TV shows and board of supervisors meetings. Group members committed to action plans, including short- and long-term goals. Eighteen months later, attendees had reached a number of important goals that had been discussed at the conference. Not only had they been able to increase funding for a framework’s housing loan program and created a rental assistance fund, but they were on their way to building a $5. 5 million low-income housing project.

In addition, participants addressed a number of unhooking issues as well. They embarked on diversity training in their stakeholder groups, created a citizen action corps, invited other community members to participate on additional task force groups, and created a plan to revivalist a local downtown area. Did the future search conference work? ” one participant wondered. “No question about it. It provided a living model of democracy. ” 8 Reheat, & Fries, 2009) ABA, a German trading company with 15,000 employees, embarked on a major strategic change initiative driven by stiff competition.

A global expansion prompted the company to reorganize into a three-division structure. A decentralized shared services model, comprised of 14 new groups, was created for administrative departments that would now support internal divisions. To support the culture of the new organization, executives developed a mission and vision tenement that explained the company’s new values and asked managers to cascade these messages to their staffs. This effort was kicked off and managed from the top of the organization.

The director of the newly formed shared services centers contacted external consultants, suspecting that a simple communication cascade to employees would not result in the behavioral changes needed in the new structure. The new administrative groups would have significant changes to work processes, and the lead managers of each of the 14 new groups would need assistance to put the new values and beliefs into practice. The consultants proposed an employee survey to gauge the beliefs and feelings of the staff and to provide an upward communication mechanism.

Survey results were available to managers of each center, and the external consultants coached the managers through an interpretation of the results to guide self-exploration and personal development. Internal consultants worked with the managers of each of the new centers to facilitate a readout of the survey results with employees and take actions customized to the needs of each group. Consultants conducted workshops for managers to help them further develop arsenal leadership and communication skills, topics that the survey suggested were common areas of improvement across the management team.

Over a period of 4 years, the cycle was repeated, using variations of the employee survey questions, a feedback step, and management development workshops covering new subjects each time. Interviews and surveys conducted late in the process showed that employees had a positive feeling about change in general. Leaders reported noticing a more trusting relationship between employees and their managers characterized by more open communication. Center managers took the initiative to make regular and ongoing improvements to their units.

The authors noted the need for a major change like this one to include multiple intervention targets. This organization experienced “changes in strategy, structure, management instruments, leadership, employee orientation, and the organization’s culture context” (p. 537), which required a broad set of surveys, coaching, and workshops to support. “These change supporting activities helped implement the change with lasting effect” (p. 537), they conclude. As you can see from this and the previous examples, ODD is concerned with diverse variety of issues to address problems involving organizations, teams, and individuals.

ODD is also conducted in a diverse variety of organizations, including federal, state, and local governments (which are among the largest employers in the United States, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), public sector organizations around the world, health care organizations, educational settings, and nonprofit and private enterprises. Interventions can involve a single individual, a small team (such as the cancer center team described above), multiple teams, or a whole organization.

It can also consist of multiple targets of change, such as in the Videophone initiative that involved not only large-scale culture change but also the implementation of teams and individual coaching. ODD can also deal with maladministration efforts, such as that described in Santa Cruz County, or it can involve multiple national governments. The target of change can be something as seemingly simple as increasing employee involvement or developing coworker relationships, or it can be as potentially large as creating the vision or strategy of an entire organization or documenting the 10-year future of a large county.

What Organization Development Is Not Despite this seemingly expansive definition of what organization development is and what issues and problems it addresses, it is also limited. ODD is not any of the following. Management Consulting ODD can be distinguished from management consulting in specific functional areas such as finance, marketing, corporate strategy, or supply chain management. It is also distinguished from information technology applications. Yet, ODD is applicable to any of these areas.

When organizations attempt conscious changes, whether it involves implementing a new IT system; changes in strategy, goals, or direction; or adapting to a new team leader, ODD offers relevant processes and techniques to make the change function effectively. An ODD practitioner would not likely use expertise in one of these content areas (for example, best practices in financial structures of supplier relationships or contemporary marketing analysis) to make recommendations about how an organization does this activity.

Most management consulting also is not based on Odd’s set of foundational values (a topic that we will take up in detail in Chapter 3). In Chapter 5 we will discuss ODD consulting in particular and differentiate it from management consulting activities with which you may be familiar. Training and Development While individual and organization learning is a part of ODD and a key value we will discuss in a later chapter, ODD work is not confined to training activities.

ODD is not generally the context in situations in which learning is the sole objective, such as learning a new skill, system, or procedure. ODD deals with organizational change efforts that may or may not involve members of the organization needing to learn specific new skills or systems. Many training and development professionals are gravitating toward ODD to enhance their skills in identifying the structural elements of organizations that need to be changed or enhanced for training and new skills to be effective.

Other aspects of the training and development profession, however, such as needs assessment, course development, the use of technology, or on-the-Job training, are not central to the Job of the ODD practitioner. In addition, most training programs are developed for a large audience, often independent of how the program would be applied in any given organization. While some ODD interventions do incorporate training programs and skill building, ODD is more centrally concerned with the context that would make a training program successful, such as management support, Job role clarification, process design, and more.

As Burke (2008) writes, “Individual development cannot be separated from ODD, but to be ODD, individual development must be in the service of or leverage for system-wide change, an integral aspect of Odd’s definition” (p. 23). Short Term ODD is intended to address long-term change. Even in cases in which the intervention is carried out over a short period (such as the several-day workshops conducted at he cancer center described earlier), the change is intended to be a long-term or permanent one. ODD efforts are intended to develop systemic changes that are long lasting.

In the contemporary environment in which changes are constantly being made, this can be particularly challenging. The Application of a Toolkit Many ODD practitioners speak of the ODD “toolkit. ” It is true that ODD does occasionally involve the application of an instrumented training or standard models, but it is also more than that. To confuse ODD with a toolkit is to deny that it also has values that implement its science. It is more than a rigid procedure for moving an organization, team, or individual from point A to point B.

It involves being attuned to the social and personal dynamics of the client organization that usually require flexibility in problem solving, not a standardized set of procedures or tools. In Chapter 3, we will discuss the values that underlie ODD to better understand the fundamental concepts that explain how and why ODD practitioners make the choices they do. Who This Book Is For This book is for students, practitioners, and managers who seek to learn more about he process of organizational change following organization development values and practices.