Organization Development


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Organization Development (OD) is a unique organizational improvement strategy.

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Organization Development

  1. 1. Organization Development (OD) is a unique organizational improvement strategy. Thesets of structured/planned activities adopted by groups or individuals in an organizationas a part of the organization development program are known as “OD techniques” or“OD interventions”. While change programs may involve either external or internalconsultants, OD interventions mostly involve external consultants."A planned change process, managed from the top, taking into account both thetechnical and human sides of the organization”Beckhard defines Organization Development (OD) as "An effort, planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and healththrough planned interventions in the organizations processes, using behavioral-scienceknowledge." In essence, OD is a planned system of change. • Planned- OD takes a long-range approach to improving organizational performance and efficiency. It avoids the (usual) "quick-fix". • Organization wide- OD focuses on the total system. • Managed from the top-To be effective, OD must have the support of top- management. They have to model it, not just espouse it. The OD process also needs the buy-in and ownership of workers throughout the organization. • Increase organization effectiveness and health- OD is tied to the bottom-line. Its goal is to improve the organization, to make it more efficient and more competitive by aligning the organizations systems with its people. • Planned interventions- After proper preparation, OD uses activities called interventions to make system wide, permanent changes in the organization. • Using behavioral-science knowledge- OD is a discipline that combines research and experience to understanding people, business systems, and their interactions. “OD interventions are sets of structured activities in which selected organizational units (target groups or individuals) engage in a task or sequence of tasks with the goals of organizational improvement and individual development”. We usually think of OD only in terms of the interventions themselves. This article seeks to emphasize that these activities are only the most visible part of a complex process, and to put some perspective and unity into the myriad of OD tools that are used in business today. These acti vities include a) Total Quality Management (an evolutionary approach to improving an organization) b) Reengineering (a more revolutionary approach).
  2. 2. And there are dozens of other interventions, such as strategic planning and team building. It is critical to select the correct intervention(s), and this can only be done with proper preparation.WHY DO OD? • Human resources -- Our People -- May be a large fraction of our costs of doing business. They certainly can make the difference between organizational success and failure. We better know how to manage them. • Changing nature of the workplace- Our workers today want feedback on their performance, a sense of accomplishment, feelings of value and worth, and commitment to social responsibility. They need to be more efficient, to improve their time management. And, of course, if we are to continue doing more work with less people, we need to make our processes more efficient. • Global markets- Our environments are changing, and our organizations must also change to survive and prosper. We need to be more responsible to and develop closer partnerships with our customers. We must change to survive, and we argue that we should attack the problems, not the symptoms, in a systematic, planned, humane manner. • Accelerated rate of change- Taking an open-systems approach, we can easily identify the competitions on an international scale for people, capital, physical resources, and information.WHO DOES OD?To be successful, OD must have the buy-in, ownership, and involvement of allstakeholders, not just of the employees throughout the organization. OD is usuallyfacilitated by change agents -- people or teams that have the responsibility for initiatingand managing the change effort. These change agents may be either employees of theorganization (internal consultants) or people from outside the organization (externalconsultants.)Effective change requires leadership with knowledge, and experience in changemanagement. We strongly recommend that external or internal consulta nts be used,preferably a combination of both. ("These people are professionals; dont try this athome.")Bennis notes that "external consultants can manage to affect ... the power structure in away that most internal change agents cannot." Since experts from outside are lesssubject to the politics and motivations found within the organization, they can be moreeffective in facilitating significant and meaningful changes.
  3. 3. Interventions constitute the ACTION component of The OD cycle.The OD practitioner (consultant) adds value in many ways. 4 sets of attributes arebrought to the organizational context:A set of values;ii) A set of assumptions about people, organizations and interpersonal relationships;iii) A set of goals for the practitioner, the organization and its members; andiv) A set of structured activities that are the means of achieving the values, assumptionsand goals. These activities are what are referred to as interventions.Intervention strategies are based on results of the diagnostic process and the specifiedgoals of the client system.E.g. the client system wants to modernize the production process by moving from anassembly line with simple task structure and complexity to complex tasks performed byself-managed teams.WHEN IS AN ORGANIZATION READY FOR OD?There is a formula, attributed to David Gleicher, which we can used to decide if anorganization is ready for change: Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Steps > Resistance to ChangeThis means that three components must all be present to overcome the resistance tochange in an organization: Dissatisfaction with the present situation, A vision of what ispossible in the future, and Achievable first steps towards reaching this vision.If any of the three is zero or near zero, the product will also be zero or near zero and theresistance to change will dominate.We use this model as an easy, quick diagnostic aid to decide if change is possible. ODcan bring approaches to the organization that will enable these three compone nts tosurface, so we can begin the process of change.
  4. 4. OD IS A PROCESSAction Research is a process which serves as a model for most OD interventions.French and Bell describe Action Research as a "Process of systematically collectingresearch data about an ongoing system relative to some objective, goal, or need of thatsystem; feeding these data back into the system; taking actions by altering selectedvariables within the system based both on the data and on hypotheses; and evaluatingthe results of actions by collecting more data." The steps in Action Research are: 1. Entry-This phase consists of marketing, i.e. finding needs for change within an organization. It is also the time to quickly grasp the nature of the organization, identify the appropriate decision maker, and build a trusting relationship. 2. Start-up and contracting- In this step, we identify critical success factors and the real issues, link into the organizations culture and processes, and clarify roles for the consultant(s) and employees. This is also the time to deal with resistance within the organization. A formal or informal contract will define the change process. 3. Assessment and diagnosis- Here we collect data in order to find the opportunities and problems in the organization (refer to DxVxF>R above.) For suggestions about what to look for, see the previous article in this series, on needs assessment . This is also the time for the consultant to make a diagnosis, in order to recommend appropriate interventions. 4. Feedback- This two-way process serves to tell those what we found out, based on an analysis of the data. Everyone who contributed information should have an opportunity to learn about the findings of the assessment process (provided there is no apparent breach of anyones confidentiality.) This provides an opportunity for the organizations people to become involved in the change process, to learn about how different parts of the organization affect each other, and to participate in selecting appropriate change interventions. 5. Action planning- In this step we will distill recommendations from the assessment and feedback, consider alternative actions and focus our intervention(s) on activities that have the most leverage to effect positive change in the organization. An implementation plan will be developed that is based on the assessment data, is logically organized, results- oriented, measurable and rewarded. We must plan for a participative decision-making process for the intervention. 6. Intervention.- Now, and only now, do we actually carry out the change process. It is important to follow the action plan, yet remain flexible enough to modify the process as the organization changes and as new information emerges. 7. Evaluation- Successful OD must have made meaningful changes in the performance and efficiency of the people and their organization. We need to have an evaluation procedure to verify this success, identify needs for new or continuing OD activities, and improve the OD process itself to help make future interventions more successful.
  5. 5. 8. Adoption- After steps have been made to change the organization and plans have been formulated, we follow-up by implementing processes to insure that this remains an ongoing activity within the organization, that commitments for action have been obtained, and that they will be carried out. 9. Separation- We must recognize when it is more productive for the client and consultant to undertake other activities, and when continued consultation is counterproductive. We also should plan for future contacts, to monitor the success of this change and possibly to plan for future change activities.POSSIBLE RESULTS OF OD INTERVENTIONS:-Feedback-Awareness of changing socio-cultural norms or dysfunctional current norms-Increased interaction and communication-Confrontation (surfacing and examining differences)-Education (knowledge and concepts, beliefs and attitudes, skills)-Participation (in problem solving, goal setting, idea generation)-Increased accountability (through clarifying responsibility and monitoring performance)-Increased energy and optimism(“the future is desirable, worthwhile and attainable”)COMMON OD INTERVENTIONS The following a few of most common OD Interventions, that most of the companies practice: 1. Applying criteria to goals: Here the leadership establishes objective criteria for the outputs of the organizations goal-setting processes. Then they hold people accountable not only for stating goals against those criteria but also for producing the desired results. Example: Organizations are implementing the concept of Balanced Scorecard, X-Matrix etc., to capture the goals of the employees, which in turn is helpful in their assessment and mid-term correction of their performance.
  6. 6. 2. Establishing inter-unit task forces: These groups can cross both functionalparts of the organization (the "silos") as well as employee levels. They are ideallyaccountable to one person and are appropriately rewarded for completing theirassigned task effectively. Then they disband.Example:Organizations have introduced various schemes for rewarding their employeesfor their performance, like:- Introducing the concept of Variable pay in as a part of CTC- Spot Recognition Award- Project bonus, performance bonus etc.,3. Experimentation with alternative arrangements: Today organizations aresubject to "management by best-seller." The goal in these interventions is tocreate what is being called a "learning organization," one that performsexperiments on organizational structure and processes, analyzes the results, andbuilds on them.Example:Organizations today are targeting at streamlining the process of Learning andDevelopment and encouraging the culture of Learning in the organizations.- Targeting achieving mandatory man-days of training for their employees- Introducing the Competency based practices4. Identifying “Key Communicators”: This is to carefully determine who seemsto be "in the know" within the organization. These people often do not know thatthey are, in fact, key communicators. This collection of individuals is then fedhonest information during critical times, one-on-one and confidentially.Example:Defining the process of Organizational Communication policy- Introducing Top – down and Bottom – up Communication approach- Introducing Employee Forums and Suggestion Box options for employeeinteraction- Identifying Critical employees in the organization and making them the BrandAmbassadors of their company
  7. 7. 5. Identifying “Fireable Offenses”: This intervention deepens theunderstanding of and commitment to the stated values of the organization. Thisfacilitates the work of the Top Management to answer the critical question, "Ifwere serious about these values, then what might an employee do that would beso affrontive to them that he/she would be fired?"Example:- Publishing and Instilling Values and Beliefs among all employees- Introducing Policies like Whistle Blowing, Sexual Harassment etc.,6. In-Visioning: This is actually a set of interventions that help to "acculturate"everyone in the organization into an agreed-upon vision, mission, purpose, andvalues. The interventions might include training, goal setting, organizationalsurvey-feedback, communications planning, etc.7. Team Building: This intervention can take many forms.Example:The most common is interviews and other pre-work, followed by a one- to three-day offsite session. During the meeting the group diagnoses its function as a unitand plans improvements in its operating procedures.8. Inter-group Problem Solving: This intervention usually involves working withthe two groups separately before bringing them together. They establish commongoals and negotiate changes in how the groups interface.Example:This is practiced in Product Development Companies and most of the IT andITES Companies.- Focused group discussion are encouraged by the management, for generatingbetter ideas and concepts
  8. 8. 9. Management / Leadership Training: Many OD professionals come from a training background. They understand that organizations cannot succeed long term without well-trained leaders. The OD contribution there can be to ensure that the development curriculum emphasizes practical, current situations that need attention within the organization and to monitor the degree to which training delivery is sufficiently participative as to promise adequate transfer of learnings to the job. Example: Most of the organizations today are focusing at Leadership Management for their employees. Earlier, this was targeted to the Top Management alone, but now, organizations are seeing its relevance to inculcate the leadership skills in their middle management and junior management as well. - Business Organization Retreat (BOD) is being the most common practice, is a part of this initiative. 10. Setting up measurements: The total-quality movement emphasizes that all work is a part of a process and that measurement is essential for process improvement. The OD professional is equipped with tools and techniques to assist leaders and others to create measurement methods and systems to monitor key success indicators. Example: - The concepts like Six Sigma, TQM etc act as Measurements tools for the process followed in the organization.10. Studies of structural causes "Root-cause analysis" is a time-honored quality-improvement tool, and OD practitioners often use it to assist organizational clients to learn how to get down to the basis causes of problems.11. Survey-feedback This technology is probably the most powerful way that OD professionals involve very large numbers of people in diagnosing situations that need attention within the organization and to plan and implement improvements. The general method requires developing reliable, valid questionnaires, collecting data from all personnel, analyzing it for trends, and feeding the results back to everyone for action planning.
  9. 9. 12. "Walk-the-talk" assessment Most organizations have at least some leaders who "say one thing and do another." This intervention, which can be highly threatening, concentrates on measuring the extent to which the people within the organization are behaving with integrity.This catalog is, of course, not exhaustive. It only covers the most common ODinterventions. Every practitioner augments this list with both specially designedinterventions that meet the precise needs of clients and with other, more complexinterventions such as large-group sessions, and other popular programs. It is important,however, that all OD professionals be completely grounded in these basic interventions.CLASSIFICATION OF OD INTERVENTIONSSome OD interventions include Sensitivity Training, Survey Feedback, ProcessConsultation, Team Interventions and Intergroup Interventions, Third Party PeaceMaking Interventions, and Structural Interventions. The most widely used structuralinterventions are parallel learning structures, self-managed teams, Management byObjectives (MBO), Quality Circles, Total Quality Management (TQM), Quality of worklife (QWL) projects, large-scale systems change, organizational transformation, andprocess reengineering.There are many, many different types of OD interventions. These are classified, orgrouped according to:i) The objectives of the interventionsii) The targets of the interventionsSome of the major “families” of OD interventions are as described below:1. Diagnostic Activities: it is a fact-finding activities designed to ascertain the state of the system or the status of a problem.2. Team Building Activities: Such activities are designed to enhance the effective operation of system teams. These can focus on task-related issues such as the way things are done, necessary skills and resources, relationship quality between team members and between team and leader, and effectiveness. In addition, structural issues must be addressed (the nature of the team). “Outdoor Adventure” teambuilding programmes are currently very popular.
  10. 10. 3. Intergroup Activities: Such activities are designed to improve the effectiveness of interdependent groups, ie those that must cooperate to produce a common output. These focus on joint activities and the output of the groups as a single system rather than 2 subsystems.4. Survey Feedback Activities: These are the activities that focus on the use of questionnaires to generate information which is then used to identify problems and opportunities.5. Education and Training Activities: These activities are designed to improve skills, abilities and knowledge. Several activities and approaches are possible, depending on the nature of the need.6. Techno structural or Structural Activities are designed to improve organizational structures and job designs. Activities could include either: a) Experimenting with new organizational structures and evaluating their effectiveness b) Devising new ways to bring technical resources to bear on problems7. Process Consultation Activities are activities that help the client “Perceive, Understand and act upon process events which occur in the client’s environment”. The client gained insight into the human processes in organizations and learns skills in diagnosing and managing them. Emphasis on communication, leader and member roles in groups, problem solving and decision making, group norms, leadership and authority and intergroup cooperation and competition.8. Third -Party Peacemaking Activities: These are the intervention by a skilled third party aimed at helping 2 organizational members manage their interpersonal conflict. Based on confrontation and an understanding of conflict and conflict resolution processes.9. Strategic Management Activities: It helps key policy-makers reflect on the organization’s basic mission and goals, environmental demands, threats and opportunities, engaging in long-range planning of both a reactive and a proactive nature. Attention is focused outside of the org. and to the future.
  11. 11. 10. Sensitivity Training: Sensitivity Training is a form of training that claims to makepeople more aware of their own prejudices, and more sensitive to others. According toits critics, it involves the use of psychological techniques with groups that its critic claimare often identical to brainwashing tactics. Critics believe these techniques areunethical.11. Organisational Transformation Activities: Thses activities focus on large- scale system changes that will fundamentally transform the nature of the organization. Virtually every aspect of the org. is changed: structure, management philosophy, reward systems, work design, mission, values and culture. 12. Force-field Analysis: Force field analysis is an influential development in the field of social science. It provides a framework for looking at the factors (forces) that influence a situation, originally social situations. It looks at forces that are either driving movement toward a goal (helping forces) or blocking movement toward a goal (hindering forces). The principle, developed by Kurt Lewin, is a significant contribution to the fields of social science, psychology, social psychology, organizational development, process management, and change management.