Organisational Development

Organisational development (OD) as a practice involves an ongoing, systematic process of implementing effective organisational change. OD is both a field of applied science focused on understanding and managing organisational change and a field of scientific study and inquiry. It is interdisciplinary in nature and draws on sociology, psychology, particularly industrial and organisational psychology, and theories of motivation, learning, and personality. Although behavioural science has provided the basic foundation for the study and practice of OD, new and emerging fields of study have made their presence felt. Experts in systems thinking, in organisational learning, in the structure of intuition in decision-making, and in coaching whose perspective is not steeped in just the behavioural sciences, but in a much more multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approach have emerged as OD catalysts or tools.

The objectives of OD are to increase the level of inter-personal trust, cooperation and collaboration among employees, and to confront problems by increasing organisational problem-solving and reducing conflict.

From the perspective of organisational transformation, it is worth considering whether a dedicated OD function could be an enabler to continually improve processes and offerings by helping to make strategic choices in all activities of the organisation.

Pros

  • The process forces introspection, which can be revealing, reinforcing things you suspected and exposing things you didn’t know existed.
  • It can point to better outcomes, often by showing how to make the most of existing resources and also how to take advantage of new strategies and tactics.
  • It can reduce business expenses. From getting a firmer handle on your budget to reducing waste and duplicity, organisationaldevelopment should influence your bottom line.

Cons

  • It can unleash a swift culture clash, especially if there is a lack of employee buy-in.
  • It can be easily foiled by weak communication. Employees must be kept in the loop about all phases of an organisationaldevelopment initiative, no matter how mundane the details.
  • It requires considerable investment of time and budget.

Recommended resources: What is Organisational Development, CIPD

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