Organizational Development 

In the 1980s, business leaders were fascinated by “Kaizen”, a Japanese term meaning “continuous improvement”. Kaizen was one of the secrets behind the incredible industrial success of Japan at the time. Although Kaizen is no longer discussed in boardrooms, its older iteration – organizational development – is still essential for companies willing to go the extra mile to achieve excellence. 

What is organizational development?

Organizational development (“OD”) attempts to improve an organization’s capabilities by coordinating the optimization of strategy, skills, structure, motivation, management, and assessment processes. OD involves numerous disciplines such as learning and development, psychology, social sciences, human resource management, innovation, research design, and organizational behavior. Organizational development is a long-term effort, and although it is a linear process, most Organizational development programs incorporate feedback loops that involve a continuous cycle that returns to the initial phase.   

Why is organizational development important?

Organizational development requires the cooperation of a company at every level, with a focus on detecting and resolving problems. This unrelenting effort can result in numerous advantages.  

Constant strategic adaptation:

A common maxim is “the only constant is change”. Whereas some organizations tend to review strategy on a periodic basis, a company involved in Organizational Development will frequently update its strategy to reflect a constant flow of recommendations that emerge from the process. This mindset will result in an organization that has change management as a familiar initiative, as opposed to companies that need to implement change management quickly (and therefore less effectively).  

Increased communication:

Organizational development affects everyone from production line workers to senior executives. Along the entire organizational hierarchy, staff members provide input regarding potential areas of improvement. This flow of information can benefit communication throughout the company. 

Growth of skill levels:

It is sometimes the case that organizational deficiencies are a matter of insufficient training. OD programs therefore lead to the implementation of learning and development initiatives. In themselves, such initiatives increase the competency level of workers. Additionally, L&D programs increase employee satisfaction and retention.

Improved output:

Whether an organization sells a product or service, an effective organizational development program can result in a higher level of output, both in terms of quantity and value. 

How to Create an Organizational Development Program

The first stage of an Organizational development program involves setting up the organizational infrastructure that will manage the process. There are organizational development specialists who can administer such programs, although many companies employ their own human resources staff for this purpose. In either case, the outline of the organizational development program must be presented early in the process to management in order to receive their approval and commitment to provide resources. The outline will touch on subjects including the hypothetical organizational problem (subject to change during a later phase), a timeline for program execution, resource requirements, and personnel involved. Once this initial phase is complete, most organizational development programs follow this process:

Assessment

Collection of data based on the initial definition of the problem. Interviews are conducted with stakeholders throughout the organization, as well as accounting personnel who can provide a quantitative description of the problem. At this point, the Organizational development manager might discover that the original problem definition was not valid. Such an occurrence might require revision of the first program stage, and almost certainly the assessment phase. 

Formulation

Data from the assessment phase is processed and analyzed, and a plan of implementation is developed. Refinements to the initial organizational development project plan might be required. At the end of this phase, the OD team should have an action plan ready, as well as a set of current performance benchmarks and future goals. 

Implementation

The resources for the action plan are sourced and the development initiatives are carried out. Coaches, mentors, and trainers are identified and set to work observing, recommending, and instructing. Experts and consultants can be hired to assess current methodologies and provide recommendations. Change plans are organized to cover, for instance, communication, roles and responsibilities, training, and risk management. Changes can be effected through ‘interventions’, where the development needs of the individual, group, and organization are addressed and corrected. This can include, for example, production problems, skill gaps, organizational changes, and pending opportunities. 

Evaluation

A continuous process of evaluating the efficacy of the organizational development program. This is a common juncture for the occurrence of feedback loops by which stakeholders analyze progress to date and, if required, repeat the organizational development process for remaining areas of weakness or new issues. 

About GrowthSpace

GrowthSpace L&D platform is changing the world of employee learning and development with a scalable, technology-based approach unlike any other. If you want to finally see what employee L&D programs can really do for your organization, contact us.  

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