Introduction to Organization Development

Organizations change from time to time. Changes with respect to continuous improvements, diversity, and work process engineering require the organization to move forward through a process called organizational development.

Definition of Organization Development:

Organization development is a process that addresses system wide change in the organization.

Change agent:

  • Change agents are individuals responsible for fostering the change effort and assisting employees in adapting to changes
  • They are may be internal employees, or external consultants.

What is change?

Organization development efforts support changes that are usually made in four areas:

  • The organization’s systems
  • Technology
  • Processes
  • People

Two metaphors clarify the change process.

The calm waters metaphor: It describes unfreezing the status quo, change to a new state, and refreezing to ensure that the change is permanent. Kurt Lewin describes the status quo can be considered an equilibrium state. Unfreezing, necessary to move from this equilibrium, is achieved in one of three ways:

  1. The driving forces, which direct behavior away from the status quo, can be increased.
  2. The restraining forces, which hinder movement from the existing equilibrium, can be decreased.
  3. The two approaches can be combined.

Lewin’s three steps process treats change as a break in the organization’s equilibrium state. The status quo has been disturbed, and change is necessary to establish a new equilibrium.

The white-water rapids metaphor: The white-water rapids metaphor recognizes today’s business environment that is less stable/dynamic and not as predictable/uncertain.

Organization Development Methods

  • Organizational development facilitates long-term organization-wide changes.
  • Its focus is to constructively change attitudes and values among organizational members so that they can more readily adapt to and be more effective in achieving the new directions of the organization.
  • One fundamental issue of OD is its reliance on employee participation to foster an environment of open communication and trust.
  • Persons involved in OD efforts acknowledge that change can create stress for employees.
  • OD attempts to involve organizational members in changes that will affect their jobs and seeks their input about how the innovation is affecting them.

Organization Development Techniques

  • Any organizational activity that assists with implementing planned change can be viewed as an OD technique.
  • OD techniques include:
  1. Survey feedback
  2. Process consultation
  3. Team building
  4. Intergroup development

1. Survey Feedback:

  • Survey feedback assesses organizational members’ perceptions and attitudes about their jobs (satisfaction with their job, coworkers, supervisors, and management etc) and organization (decision making, communication effectiveness, and leaderships etc).
  • The summarized data are used to identify problems and clarify issues so that commitments to action can be made.

2. Process consultation:

  • Process consultation uses outside consultants to help organizational members perceive, understand, and act upon process events.
  • Consultants coach managers in diagnosing interpersonal processes that need improvement.

3. Team Building:

  • Organizations are made up of individuals working together to achieve same goals. They frequently interact with peers.
  • The primary function of OD is to help them become a team.
  • Team building may include:
    • Goal setting
    • Development of interpersonal relationships
    • Clarification of roles
    • Team process analysis
    • Team building attempts to increase trust, openness towards one another, and team functioning.

4. Intergroup development:

  • Intergroup development attempts to change attitudes, stereotypes, and perceptions that one group may have towards another group.
  • It attempts to achieve cohesion among different work groups or helping members of various groups become a cohesive team.
  • It builds better coordination among the various groups.

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