Organization Development Discussion

Organization Development: An Introduction to the Field, Its History, and Its Practices

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Learning Outcomes After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

Describe the field of organization development in terms of its purpose, philosophy, and definitions.

Summarize the history of organization development, including the key practices of each period.

Explore the roles, values, competencies, professional associations, and ethics of an organization development practitioner.

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More than 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed, Change is the only con- stant (Mark, 2010, para. 3). This sentiment is still true today. From fluctuations in weather and seasons to the growth and aging of your own body, change is not an optionit is a fundamental principle of existence. What changes have you experienced recently? Perhaps you became ill or recovered from an illness, enrolled in or dropped out of a class, were promoted at work or changed jobs, ended a relationship or got married, or simply changed your mind about some- thing. What changes have you experienced at your university or organization? You may have been affected by new curriculum, revised policies, layoffs, or downturns in business.

As these examples suggest, sometimes change is intended, but just as often it is unanticipated or even unwanted. For example, few of us welcomed the global economic downturn in 20072009, which required us to adjust our budgets and behaviors to cope. Laws change, corporations fail, disruptive technologies emerge. Were these changes planned or unplanned?

Unplanned change refers to changes that were unexpected, like the loss of a job, surprise suc- cesses, the sudden death of a loved one, a failed relationship, natural disasters, or new opportu- nities. What unplanned changes have been the most significant in your life? Organizations also experience unplanned changes that affect individuals, teams, the organization, and sometimes even the community, such as layoffs, company mergers, promotions, demotions, and organi- zational restructuring. See Assessment: Change Readiness to evaluate your own openness to change.

Assessment: Change Readiness Bebop was about change, about evolution. It wasnt about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.

Miles Davis (19261991), U.S. jazz musician and composer

Embracing change is not always easy, but it rewards us with new experiences, new insights, and new creations.

Most people think they are open to change. But are they? Few of us would welcome layoffs, mergers, demotions, or organization restructuring, and most would endure them grudgingly and experience stress as they unfolded. Changes such as promotions, challenging responsi- bilities, and new colleagues are more welcoming, yet they can also be stress inducing. When change comes, do you find yourself curious and even exhilarated, or are you angry, frus- trated, and worried that you are unprepared? Visit the following link to complete an assess- ment about your readiness for change: _readiness_assessment_0426111.pdf.

Consider This Planned change refers to shifts that are intended and prepared for, such as getting an educa- tion, learning new skills, moving to a new city, starting a new hobby, or finding a new job. Over the past few years, what significant changes have you planned? Have you been successful at implementing these changes?

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Section 1.1What Is Organization Development?

1.1What Is Organization Development? Like individuals, organizations are continually required to adapt to a staggering number and variety of changes at a considerable pace if they are to thrive. These changes include global- izing markets, emergence of the knowledge economy, advancing technology, growing cus- tomer diversity, shifting customer preferences, economic upturns or downturns, natural disasters, unanticipated competition, and abrupt reorganizations or changes in manage- ment. To navigate such shifts, organizations engage in planned change, an intentional or strategic process in which they take action to solve problems or overcome challenges. Examples of planned change in organiza- tions include intentional shifts in products or markets, mergers and acquisitions (at least for the controlling company), prear- ranged reorganizations, expansion into new regions or countries, and new product development. Unplanned change occurs when unanticipated circumstances, such as unstable markets, unexpected competition, surprise mergers, or sudden attrition, require shifts in strategy, products or ser- vices, personnel, finances, or other aspects of organization life.

Although individuals often manage planned change independently, organizations frequently seek help so that the planned change is systematic, effective, and lasting. This practice is known as organization development (OD). On its simplest level, OD is a process of help- ing individuals, groups, and organizations become more effective through planned change grounded in the theory and practice of OD. The OD process can be facilitated by either inter- nal or external consultants.

Defining OD No single one of the many definitions of OD is universally accepted. Beckhard (1969) offered an early definition that is now considered classic: Organization development is an effort (1) planned, (2) organization-wide, and (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health through (5) planned interventions in the organizations processes, using behavioral-science knowledge (p. 9).

Beckhards (1969) definition points to several key aspects of OD:

1. It is a planned, intentional process to address a problem or issue that needs to change.

2. It is organization wide, based on an understanding that the organization is an inte- grated system and that a change made in one place may have ramifications in others.

3. Top management provides buy-in and support of the OD effort. 4. OD activities address both the effectiveness and the health of the organization by

boosting its performance while making it a more humane place to work. 5. It is an intentional process, grounded in evidence derived from the behavioral sciences.

Shannon Fagan/Taxi/Getty Images Plus Organization development (OD) helps organizations cope with change on a global scale.

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Section 1.1What Is Organization Development?

You can see Beckhards points in other popular definitions of OD, such as this one from Cum- mings and Worley (2009): Organization development is a system wide application of behav- ioral science knowledge to the planned development, improvement, and reinforcement of the strategies, structures, and processes that lead to organization effectiveness [emphasis added] (pp. 12).

Similarly, Anderson (2012) advocated, Organization development is the process of increasing organizational change through the use of interventions driven by social and behavioral sci- ences knowledge [emphasis added] (p. 3).

In other words, OD is an intentional change process that involves the total system. It takes an evidence-based approach to planning change that improves the effectiveness and health of the organization. Moreover, employees and management are personally invested in making the organization more effective. Consultants who work with organizations to identify and implement appropriate interventions practice OD. These practitioners of OD are often con- sidered change agents for their internal or external role in facilitating change in partner- ship with key organization stakeholders in ways that solve problems, develop organization capacity, implement new policies or practices, and potentially transform the organizations functionality, productivity, climate, or culture.

OD Consultants and Clients Many organizations rely on professionals to steer them through complex and changing envi- ronments with planned responses to problems and challenges. These professionals are known as organization development (OD) consultants. Also called OD practitioners, human resource developers, human resource managers, or learning and development professionals, OD consultants are skilled at assessing problems, providing direct feedback to the organiza- tion, and influencing change. OD consultants help lead organizations through interventions that are based on careful study and preparation and are grounded in the behavioral sciences. the systematic study of human behavior such as psychology, sociology, or anthropology, that attempts to make generalizations about how humans will act in certain situations. The key stakeholder in the OD process is known as the client. Sometimes there is more than one type of client. For instance, the person who initially contacts the OD consultant may provide intro- ductory information about the problem but not be the owner of the problem or the person paying for the services. It is important for OD consultants to correctly identify the clientan issue we will cover in Chapter 3.

When Is OD Warranted? Beckhard (2006) noted there are certain conditions that warrant an organization engaging in an OD effort. These include when a client or organization wants to

1. change a managerial strategy; 2. develop an organization that better meets the needs of employees, the organization,

and the environment in which the organization works (markets, community, and so forth);

3. change cultural norms;

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Section 1.1What Is Organization Development?

4. change structure and roles; 5. build intergroup collaboration; 6. improve communications; 7. improve planning; 8. tackle issues related to mergers; 9. address motivation issues among the work force; and

10. better adapt to a changed environment.

When an organization embarks on OD, the ultimate product of the process is to implement an intervention, or act to solve a problem or respond to an opportunity in ways that improve the situation.

Interventions When people decide to make a change, they usually do something specific. For instance, if you decided to rein in your spending, you might establish a budget, create a spreadsheet to track it, switch to electronic banking, visit a financial planner, or change your saving habits. When organizations plan a change, for example, to improve inclusion in their culture, they might conduct a climate assessment; provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training; or cre- ate accountability measures among managers. Actions like these that are taken to improve a situation are known as interventions.

In OD, an intervention is a corrective action made to resolve problems or address challenges. Interventions in OD focus on tackling organization challenges such as low morale, quality defects, shifting markets, new management, leadership problems, or strategic planning.

OD Values Most of us want to do meaningful work in an organization that has pleasant working condi- tions, with colleagues who are respectful, where we feel included, and where our work is recognized and rewarded. OD seeks to honor the individual and advance organization goals. This commitment to benefit all organizational stakeholders is grounded in the philosophy of humanism.

Humanism is the belief in the inherent good of human beings, their capacity to reach full potential in life, and their right to be treated fairly and humanely. The OD value is not about change but about change that makes people betterhumanistic values (Marshak,

Consider This Have you experienced an OD effort at an organization you have worked for? If so, what moti- vated it? Have these efforts included interventions? If so, what are some problems you have experienced and interventions you have made or experienced?

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Section 1.1What Is Organization Development?

as cited in Wheatley, Tannenbaum, Yardley Griffin, & Quade, 2003, p. 4). OD experts herald ODs humanistic values as the fields distinguishing feature (Greiner & Cummings, 2004; Porras & Bradford, 2004; Wirtenberg, Abrams, & Ott, 2004), embracing the notion that the individual has to gain in the long-term for the organization to gain in the long-term (Por- ras & Bradford, 2004, p. 401). OD practitioners intend to do no harm when they engage with organizations. This is not always easy, as sometimes the goals of the organization seem counter to preserving humanity. Consider layoffs, for example. Layoffs are harmful to people losing their jobs, yet sometimes they are unavoidable in order to preserve the over- all well-being of the organization and protect other jobs. Implementing layoffs would be humane when ample notice is given, efforts are made to help affected employees find new employment, and expenses are covered during the transition with a reasonable severance package. OD consultants can help organizations ensure such humanistic practices are in place when change is difficult and painful.

Wirtenberg et al. (2004) captured this sentiment:

The need in organizations to manifest socially responsible values and cre- ate winwin business results has never been greater. OD is in an excellent position to seize the opportunity to build bridges, find common ground, and address organizational and cultural divides. (p. 479)

If you are fortunate enough to work in an organization with a highly functioning OD process, you should observe an operation engaged in continual improvement for individuals, teams, and the organization itself. If your organization lacks these practices, it is never too late to implement changes that embrace them. As you read Case Study: Is Sparklite a Candidate for OD?, ask yourself if this company is engaging in humanistic practices.

Consider This What practices have you experienced that would fall into the category of humanism? What others were contrary to the values of humanism?

Case Study: Is Sparklite a Candidate for OD? Sparklite, a spark plug manufacturing plant, underwent a management change 6 months ago when John Stevenson became the plant manager. Stevenson replaced Al Smith, who was a beloved manager and had run the plant for 20 years. Smith was a hands-on manager. He was always willing to roll up his sleeves and work on a problem, whether it involved a machine in the plant or a conflict with a customer. He was not a micromanager; rather, he would work closely with the team to solve problems. He listened to input, whether from the janitor or

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Section 1.1What Is Organization Development?

Characteristics of OD As we have already learned, OD is a planned change process that is grounded in a humanistic philosophy. It also has the following key characteristics (Beckhard, 2006, p. 9).

OD Is Systems Based OD interventions are planned with consideration for the whole organization as a system. Like medicine, OD intends to first, do no harm. Recall that the tenets of humanism require that OD benefit all stakeholders. This means, for example, that before implementing a change to workflow, the OD consultant would check to make sure the adjustments do not have a negative impact elsewhere in the organization. For instance, a workflow change might expose employ- ees to repetitive-motion injuries or make the workflow in another area unmanageable.

Top Management Is Committed Effective OD secures managements awareness of and commitment to the chosen intervention and its management from the very beginning. Employees look to management for approval

Case Study: Is Sparklite a Candidate for OD? (continued) the vice president. He expected all management personnel to behave similarly. People who worked in the plant respected Smith and felt respected by him. Over time, a true community atmosphere evolved, and the plant was one of the highest performing in the company.

Stevenson, on the other hand, spends a lot of time in his office, reading over production num- bers, talking on the phone, and holding meetings with his management team. Rarely does he go out onto the manufacturing floor and talk with employees or listen to their ideas. When one of his managers suggests, It might be helpful if you spent more time getting to know our workers, Stevenson barks, That is what I pay the supervisors to do. My time is better spent on finding ways to cut costs and improve our margin. Stevenson is very driven by numbers: When they are not good, he slams his fist on the table and demands that the next shift pick up the slack.

It does not take long for the supervisors to become afraid of Stevenson and to quit coming to him with problems. The convivial atmosphere the plant had enjoyed for so many years quickly erodes into an atmosphere of fear. Soon, the plants performance begins to suffer. Morale sinks. Members of the management team begin applying for transfers to other locations. Longtime workers are exploring other employment options. This only makes Stevenson more frustrated, agitated, and frightening to the workers.

One day, a corporate vice president comes for a plant tour and visit. It is immediately clear to her that the plant has taken a turn for the worse. She talks with several employees and can see that something has to change.

Critical Thinking Questions

1. How aligned with humanism is the organization emerging under Stevensons leadership?

2. How might planned change play a role in turning things around at Sparklite?

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Section 1.1What Is Organization Development?

and as an example, and it is imperative for organization leadership to visibly support any change effort. OD consultants play a key role in holding management accountable for demon- strating sustained and visible commitment to the OD change process. Usually, organizations will also identify an internal person to champion the change process and to hold employees and managers accountable for implementing the change.

The Intervention Is Tied to the Organizations Mission A key aspect of securing management commitment is helping leaders see how the OD initia- tive helps actualize the organizations mission and aligns with its strategy. It is also impor- tant for employees to understand this connection. For example, in the Sparklite case study, the organizations mission to produce quality products on a timely basis was facilitated by a collegial, collaborative atmosphere that was being eroded by Stevensons behavior. If an intervention were made to help Stevenson and other managers change their managerial style to a more participative one, everyone would have to understand and buy in to how the new behaviors would help the organization meet its mission.

There Is Long-Term Commitment to Implementing the Intervention Although OD interventions can sometimes be relatively simple and quick to implement, they often require a long-term commitment, sometimes 2 to 3 years or more. Interventions that change work practices, beliefs, or standards do not succeed overnight. Making lasting organi- zation change needs long-term commitment and action from all levels of the organization.

OD Has a Bias for Action Management guru Tom Peters, coauthor of In Search of Excellence, one of the best-sell- ing business books of all time, became famous for saying that effective organiza- tions have a bias for action (Peters & Waterman, 1982, 2004). This means that an organization engages in active decision making and moves quickly to action, rather than being caught in an incessant cycle of planning without action. Although OD implementation can take a long time, it is based on taking action, analyzing how the action is working, tweaking it, and repeat- ing the process for as long as necessary.

Consider This Consider a large change made by your organizationperhaps a shift to a new database, mar- keting plan, or procedure. How long did it take? Make a list of a few changes you can recall and estimate how long they took. Chances are, the more complex changes required more time and resources.

SeventyFour/iStock/Getty Images The goal of OD is to take timely, meaningful action to address problems, challenges, and opportunities within the organization.

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Section 1.1What Is Organization Development?

OD Focuses on Changing Attitudes or Behavior Lasting change occurs when people alter their ways of thinking and doing. This is why OD can be powerful and can also take a long time to implement. For example, when leaders experi- ence opportunities for leadership development and receive feedback that indicates they are not as effective as they believed, they usually engage in introspection and change. Becoming less autocratic may not happen overnight, but real, lasting change occurs as leaders experi- ment with new ways of thinking about their role as leaders and when they implement new behaviors, such as listening or including others in decision making.

OD Tends to Incorporate Experiential Learning We will learn throughout this book that when people change, they learn new ways of thinking and doing. OD favors action; thus, interventions often create opportunities for employees to experience new ways to think and act. Can you recall a time when you participated in a change that prompted new learning? For example, when I participated in a leadership development initiative, I learned how to coach employees in a way that focused on helping them solve prob- lems on their own, rather than me giving them the answer. Although there was a chance to learn about coaching from books, I did not internalize it until there was an employee in front of me with a problem and I made a conscious effort to behave differently.

OD Is Largely a Group Process Most OD is not done in isolation. Even when consultants make individual interventions such as providing training or coaching, the goal is usually to help the person function better with others. Similarly, changes in processes require that groups understand and collectively imple- ment the changes. As we will discover, the field of group dynamics and facilitation grew out of OD.

Realities and Misconceptions About OD To better understand what OD is, it is useful to explore what it is not. Table 1.1 compares some common realities and misconceptions about OD.

Table 1.1: OD realities and misconceptions

OD realities OD misconceptions

OD is a systematic process of planned change to address organization problems or issues. It follows the action research model (introduced later in this chapter).

OD is not management consulting or performance improvement activities that focus on making specific expert, functional interventions that are disconnected from the organization system.

OD is humanistic in that it seeks to improve orga- nizations through performance enhancements and improvements to people that make an organization a better place for all stakeholders.

OD is not oriented toward processes that benefit only the organization and economic values of per- formance and productivity.

OD is strategic, and its interventions include a range of activities.

OD is not simply training and development initia- tives, although often these interventions are errone- ously prescribed to address problems.

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Section 1.2The History of OD

Table 1.1: OD realities and misconceptions (continued)

OD realities OD misconceptions

OD is a long-term commitment to change that requires buy-in at multiple levels.

OD is not a short-term, quick fix for problems.

OD interventions are customized to address needs specific to the organization and its goals.

OD does not come with a one-size-fits-all set of interventions. Matching the right consultant with the problem is important for effective OD.

The next section of this chapter examines ODs origins and the interventions that have devel- oped over the past 70 years.

1.2The History of OD If you work at a company, belong to a nonprofit board, participate in a professional organiza- tion, or are a member of a church, it is likely you have engaged in team-building exercises, filled out climate surveys, collected data about the organization, solved problems, developed talent, devised strategy, or sought to change the organization. These activities emerged dur- ing the historical evolution of OD, beginning in the 1940s. These interventions are discussed in chronological order in this section, which also introduces you to some key terminology used in the field. (Refer to Table 1.2 for a summary of ODs historical development.)

Table 1.2: Key interventions in the history of OD

Date Originator(s) OD intervention

Factors contributing to development Description

1940s Lewin T-groups and OD emergence

Facilitators were debriefing a training when participants recognized that interper- sonal dynamics of the pro- cess were more powerful than the content of inter- vention itself.

A group that discusses how members behav- iors affected the group and the group dynamics that emerged

1940s Trist and Bamforth

Sociotechni- cal systems

Highly functioning groups faltered when management changed the technology, and consultants began problem solving to understand why.

The recognition that an organi- zations social (human) and tech- nical systems affect each other, espe- cially when either is changed

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Section 1.2The History of OD

Table 1.2: Key interventions in the history of OD (continued)

Date Originator(s) OD intervention

Factors contributing to development Description

1940s1950s Lewin and Likert

Action research and survey feedback

The dawning understand- ing of the power of group reflection on problems and issues in the organization

Action research is an iterative, col- laborative effort to study problems (research), take actions to resolve them, and conduct more studies to see if the fix worked.

Survey research is used to gauge atti- tudes in organiza- tions, and issues are usually addressed using action research.

1960s Likert Participative management

Emerged from increasing application of humanistic practices in organizations with the advent of prior OD interventions in the 1940s and 1950s

Managers and leaders who listen to, respect, and seek input from employees

1950s1970s Deming Quality of work life (QWL), total quality management (TQM)

Struggling industrialized countries (e.g., United Kingdom and United States) looked to Japan for its high-quality manufacturing practices to become more competitive.

QWL seeks to enhance sociotech- nical systems and employee well- being and empow- erment to make decisions.

TQM is a process of continuous improvement.

1980s Schein Organization culture

OD shifted its focus from individuals and groups to the organization itself, which bred an interest in how organizational atmo- sphere and tone (culture) affect its members.

A pattern of basic assumptions that are invented, dis- covered, or devel- oped by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of adapta- tion to the external environment

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Section 1.2The History of OD

Table 1.2: Key interventions in the history of OD (continued)

Date Originator(s) OD intervention

Factors contributing to development Description

1980s1990s Beckhard and Harris

Planned and strategic change

The dawning recognition by OD consultants that change and interventions were more effective and lasting when they advanced the organizations strategy

Linking planned change to the orga- nizations strategy and goals

1990s Senge, Watkins, and Marsick

Organization learning and the learning organization

The shift from the industrial age to the knowledge age, and the need to encourage and facilitate learning and thinking

Organization learning is focused on describing the nature and process of learning that occurs within an organization. An organization becomes a learning organization when learning is part of its strategy. The goal is to leverage learning to improve the organization.

2000s Various Contem- porary OD: Organization effectiveness (OE) and employee engagement

OE is likely more of a change in verbiage than a substantive change in prac- tice. This terminology may be more palatable to top management because soft skills promoted by OD may not be as valued as other skills. Organizations seek ways to fully involve work- ers in all aspects of the busi- ness as a way of promoting satisfaction and to promote OE through engagement.

OE is the pursuit of high levels of pro- ductivity. Engage- ment is similar to the QWL and TQM movements to fully employ workers.

T-Groups and the Emergence of OD (1940s) Kurt Lewin (18981947) is widely regarded as the father of OD for his innovations in group dynamics and action research, although he died before the term organization development came into use in the mid-1950s. It is difficult to overstate Lewins contributions to the field. As Burke (2006) noted, His thinking has had a more pervasive impact on organization develop- ment, both directly and indirectly, than any other persons (p. 25).

Author of the well-known saying If you want truly to understand something, try to change it (as cited in Tolman, Cherry, van Hezewijk, & Lubek, 1996, p. 31), Lewin applied his logic by

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Section 1.2The History of OD

working in organizations to facilitate change. His practice and research led to some of the most impor- tant discoveries about group dynamics and factors that help organizations make effective change. Lewin founded the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1944. His key contributions include understanding group facilitation, inventing action research, and demonstrating that social interactions could be stud- ied with controlled experiments. Lewin developed many of the classic OD interventions still in use today. These are discussed further in this chapter and throughout this book.

Can you recall a time when you discussed a process with a group you belong to? Or a situation in which it would have been helpful to reflect on issues such as What were your assumptions when you dis- agreed with the decision? What did you really want to say? What just happened here? or How did our behaviors affect the meeting? When a group engages in such conversations, it is known as a train- ing group, or T-group. This is a small group in which participants receive input about their own behaviors and discuss how they affect the group dynamics. Lewin accidentally discovered the process used in T-groups, known as laboratory training or sensitivity training. This accident represented the founding of OD.

The first T-group occurred in 1946 when Lewin, then a faculty member at MIT and director of the Research Center for Group Dynamics, conducted a training program aimed at improving community leadership and interracial relationships for the American Jewish Congress of New Yorks Commission on Community Interrelations. (See Who Invented That? The Flip Chart to learn about an innovation that came out of those first T-groups.) The T-group evolved when program participants were invited to observe the daily post-training debriefing between community leaders and program facilitators.

The observers did not remain in that role for long; instead, they jumped into the discussion to clarify, build on, or dispute the observations raised by the trainers and researchers. Lewins aha moment during these interactions was the power of this act of reflecting on the days experience and questioning the assumptions and behaviors of the individuals in the training program. These reflections, in other words, were more powerful than the training itself, par- ticularly in enabling participants to transfer their new insights about group process back to relationships in their workplace.

You may have unknowingly experienced an informal T-group if you have ever met with cowork- ers to debrief a meeting, during which time you spoke frankly and tried to make meaning of your own and others actions during the meeting. Sometimes this is known as the meeting after the meeting. These exchanges are often much more enlightening and educational than the formal meetings themselves.

Associated Press Kurt Lewin contributed to OD with innovations in group dynamics and action research. For this reason, he is often referred to as the father of OD.

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Section 1.2The History of OD

Although T-groups are still used today, their popularity has waned because it is challenging to transfer insights from the experience back to the workplace. Moreover, T-groups tend to focus on individual behaviors and therefore are not always effective at moving the group or organi- zation to the next level. Eventually, these limitations led to the emergence of team building, representing ODs first shift from the individual to the group unit of analysis.

Sociotechnical Systems (1940s) During the postWorld War II era of rapid industrialization, in which T-groups emerged in the United States, changes were also afoot in the United Kingdom, where Eric Trist and Ken Bam- forth of the Tavistock Institute encountered problems in their consultancy with a coal mining company. The mining teams were cohesive work groups that were responsible for manag- ing their work and received pay based on group effort. However, they experienced problems when management improved their equipment and technology in ways that fractured their previously cohesive working arrangements.

Trist and Bamforth (1951) worked with the company to reestablish the social elements that worked so well before the technology changed. This was the first time that a relationship between social and technical systems was recognized. Both aspects had to be considered when implementing change because they affected each other. In short, organizations were now understood as sociotechnical systems in which social and technical systems are inter- related and interdependent.

Action Research and Survey Feedback (1940s1950s) Lewin is known for saying, There is nothing so practical as a good theory (1951, p. 169). He believed that organizations should enact only interventions that are based on sound data. Just as it is good practice for a doctor to run tests to diagnose illness before prescribing treatment, so too should organizations make data-based diagnoses before prescribing treatments for organization challenges. Kurt Lewin, John Collier, and William Whyte believed that research and action had to be connected to help organizations make and manage change. Based on

Who Invented That? The Flip Chart Ronald Lippitt and Lee Bradford are among those who helped popularize the use of the flip chart, a fixture in most meeting rooms today. They used the flip chart to record group insights and issues raised during the 1946 T-group sessions (French & Bell, 1999).

Consider This Consider your own experience in school or at work. What are the social and technical systems? How do they influence each other? How has one affected the other?

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Section 1.2The History of OD

this belief, they developed a process of diagnosing organizational ills in the 1940s known as action research.

Action Research Action research is a recurring, collaborative effort between organization members and OD consultants to use data to resolve problems. It is essentially a cycle of action and research, fol- lowed by more action and research. For example, Yvette might use a new meeting format with her team (action) and decide to interview team members about its effectiveness (research). What she learns is then shared with the team, the meeting format is modified (action), and so on. The action research process helps the organization collect, analyze, and apply data to make informed decisions and not waste time and money on inappropriate interventions.

The steps of action research include

1. collecting data about organizational problems or functioning, 2. analyzing data to understand the issue, 3. devising and implementing interventions to solve the issue or problem, 4. collecting additional data to evaluate the results, and 5. repeating the cycle (back to Step 1).

For example, suppose an organization is experiencing high turnover. Rather than just guess- ing about the cause and trying a program to address it, such as providing training, the action research process would involve investigating the turnover issue first by collecting data. Data might be collected by conducting exit interviews with former employees, surveying cur- rent employees about their intentions to leave, conducting a climate survey, or talking with managers.

The second step, analyzing data, involves interpreting the findings of the data collected in the previous step. The action research process is iterative; that is, the cycle of data collection and action is often repeated, and they inform future action. So in the case of turnover, exit inter- views with former employees might reveal that the issue is related to pay, which the organiza- tion may want to investigate further by collecting industry data.

Once enough data are collected and analyzed, the organization is ready to move on to the third step, devising an intervention. The best solution in this case might be to adjust the pay scale.

Finally, the organization is ready for Step 4, evaluating results. This often involves additional data collection and analysis, such as monitoring the turnover rate to see if the intervention worked. If it did not, then the action research cycle repeats (Step 5).

We will return to this action research model throughout this book. Together, the humanistic philosophy and the action research process distinguish OD from other organization problem- solving processes. Action research is a valuable model to memorize and follow, whether or not you intend to work in the OD field.

See Tips and Wisdom: Training to read about possible pitfalls of prescribing training as an intervention.

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Section 1.2The History of OD

Survey Feedback Organizations often collect data on employee satisfaction. Have you ever received a survey asking you to rate organization variables related to management, innovation, and satisfaction along a continuum from strongly disagree to strongly agree? If so, you have completed a Lik- ert scale (Likert, 1932) for an OD intervention known as survey feedback. (See Who Invented That? The Likert Scale.)

Survey feedback is usually shared in meetings by providing a consolidated analysis of the results to work groups and their supervisors. During the feedback meetings, the data are dis- cussed and next steps determined. Survey feedback is widely used in all types of organiza- tions today and can be especially useful for monitoring change. Likert became a leading pro- ponent of participative management, probably as a consequence of his immersion in data about management practices through his work in developing survey feedback.

Participative Management (1960s) Take a moment to recall managers you have known or worked with. They may have been teachers, pastors, bosses, coaches, or board presidents, for example. Whom did you really like and respect? Why? Whom did you despise? Why? Chances are that you admired the managers who earned your respect and trust through behaviors such as listening, seeking your input, respecting you as a person, valuing your contributions, and admitting their own mistakes. These behaviors are typical of participative managers or participative management. The rise of participative management emerged as OD consultants sought to apply ODs humane

Tips and Wisdom: Training A knee-jerk reaction to organization problems is often to prescribe training. Yet training is one of the costliest interventions to implement. When training is an inappropriate intervention, not only have time and money been wasted designing and delivering it, but the root cause of the original problem has gone unaddressed. This outcome can lead to further problems, frus- trated employees, and lower organizational performance.

Who Invented That? The Likert Scale Rensis Likert (19031981), a colleague of Kurt Lewin, is best known for creating organization attitude surveys and the commonly used 5-point Likert scale. Likert developed these scales for organizations to measure employee satisfaction on a range of issues. They yield more sen- sitive results than a simple yes or no. Today, it is easy to create Likert scales with the help of web-based programs such as SurveyMonkey. You can also purchase surveys from various vendors or work with a consultant to create a customized one for your organization. Likert was a founder of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. You can learn about his background at the following link: rensis-likert.

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Section 1.2The History of OD

and democratic principles to management. Likert (1977) developed categories of manage- ment types and styles that helped popularize participative management. These include the following:

Exploitativeauthoritative: Characterized by decision making from the top with little teamwork or communication (other than threats).

Benevolentauthoritative: Characterized by a masterservant relationship between management and employees, in which rewards are used to motivate, with minimal teamwork and communication.

Consultative: Characterized by a relationship of trust among management and sub- ordinates, in which both rewards and involvement are used to motivate and there is a higher level of shared responsibility for meeting goals with moderate amounts of teamwork and communication.

Participative: Characterized by managerial trust and confidence in employees such that goals are collectively determined and rewarded, the responsibility for meeting organization objectives is shared, work is collaborative, and communication is open.

Which management definition typifies the organization(s) you belong to? Now that you have guessed, see Assessment: Management-Style Quiz to find out.

Quality of Work Life (QWL) (1950s1970s) The quality of work life (QWL) movement emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. It focused on enhancing organizations sociotechnical systems by incorporating unionmanagement coop- eration, employee involvement, and self-directed work teams. QWL was grounded in the idea that organizations should promote individual well-being, team functioning, and overall orga- nization health. The inflation and escalating energy costs characteristic of the 1970s shifted QWLs focus to global competitiveness, productivity, and employee satisfaction and became known as total quality management (TQM) (see Tips and Wisdom: TQM). W. Edwards Dem- ing is credited with being one of TQMs founders, although his ideas did not develop traction in the United States until the 1980s. He was embraced in Japan much earlier (see Who Invented That? Kaizen). Typical QWLTQM activities include quality circles (groups of employees who

Assessment: Management-Style Quiz Participative management differs from traditional authoritative management styles that seek minimal input from workers in running the organization and are built on top-down manage- ment, decision making, and communication with little lateral interaction or teamwork. Partici- pative managers, in contrast, engage all levels of employees in decision making, problem solv- ing, and strategic planning. Participative management techniques have been found to increase productivity, quality, and satisfaction. OD consultants are trained to help managers become more participative in their managerial practice through activities such as management devel- opment and executive coaching.

Use the Leadership Style Survey found at the following link to assess your management style: How would you classify it? Are you happy with it, or do you have some work to do?

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Section 1.2The History of OD

meet and identify process-improvement projects), employee involvement, employee empow- erment, process improvement, team decision making, and self-directed work teams.

Organization Culture (1980s) As OD practice shifted from individuals to groups, the natural progression was to expand that focus to the organization itself and how it could be more effective and efficient. With this shift, OD looked to the unique rules, values, and rituals that governed the beliefs and behaviors of organization membersthat is, to the study of organization culture. Jacques (1951) defined organization culture as

the customary or traditional ways of thinking and doing things, which are shared to a greater or lesser extent by all members of the organization and which new members must learn and at least partially accept in order to be accepted into the service of the firm. (p. 251)

Schein (1991), a prominent culture scholar, defined culture as a pattern of basic assump- tions that are invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of adaptation to the external environment. He suggested that when we understand a culture, we can understand how it affects group members thoughts, feelings, and actions. Think of a culture you belong to and identify some of its beliefs, activities, and customs.

Tips and Wisdom: TQM The TQM movement is alive and well today. Certification in TQM is offered by organizations such as the American Society for Quality ( and iSix Sigma (http://www.isix Many orga- nizations also apply for the Malcolm Baldrige Award, which recognizes outstanding quality performance ( The International Organization for Standard- ization provides international standards for quality management (ISO 9000) (https://www, with which many organizations also seek to comply.

Who Invented That? Kaizen Kaizen (Imai, 1986) means improvement or change for the best in Japanese. The Kaizen principle captures the notion of continuous improvement that became a dominant influence in postWorld War II Japan and a key idea in the TQM movement. The Kaizen principle applies to work processes, individuals, groups, and all levels of the organization. Deming originated the quality improvement principles that helped Japan develop into a manufacturing powerhouse, although they did not gain traction in the United States until TQM became a competitive neces- sity to improve quality in manufacturing.

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Section 1.2The History of OD

Although the issue of culture was addressed in the study of organizations as early as the 1950s, organizational values and culture were rarely studied systematically until the early 1980s (Peters & Waterman, 1982). The notion driving this shift was that organization culture needed to align with strategy. Consider high tech as an example. Today company culture val- ues creativity, innovation, and speed. Companies such as Google or Apple demand innovation on what is often referred to as Internet timeintense hours and quick turnarounds on proj- ects. In return for the high expectations and long hours, the work environments are casual and cater to every need employees might have, including grooming, eating, health care, child care, and even pet care. This type of culture supports these companies strategy of being first with the most innovative products and services. In contrast, companies focused on finance or manufacturing have a very different organization culture. We are also seeing the evolution of telecommuting and virtual workers, with virtual employment being much more accepted and common than ever before, and the rise of eco-friendly co-workspaces such as WeWork where freelancers, technology startups, major corporations, and entrepreneurs can complete their work in smartly designed physical and virtual environments, worldwide.

Every organization has a culture governed by spoken or unspoken rules. For example, some organizations are highly hierarchical, and it would be culturally taboo to skip rank to raise issues with upper management. Although this cultural rule may not be written anywhere, vio- lating it would result in quick correction by the cultures members. Culture also has artifacts that express its values and rules. The Apple corporations icon represents its mantra of think different and has become an iconic representation of a culture of innovation and design. Major university sports teams have logos and mascots that carry meaning. For example, the mascot of the University of Georgia is the English bulldog. This symbol holds many meanings, and people often refer to the university as the Bulldawg Nation and have a ritual of barking during kickoff at football games.

Planned and Strategic Change (1980s1990s) When you set a goal for yourself and intend to be successful, you typically have a plan. Consider your pursuit of a college degree. You have probably plotted your coursework, determined your timeline, and sought out people and other supports to help you succeed. Without some sort of strategy, your chances of success are slimmer. Similarly, organizations make plans to help achieve their goals. In OD, these steps are known as planned and strategic change. The movement toward planned and strategic change emerged as OD consultants recognized the importance of linking organization change initiatives to the broader strategy and goals of the organization.

Earlier in the chapter, OD was described as planned change. OD interventions such as updat- ing software, shuffling managers, or introducing new procedures typically flow from deci- sions to make changes that are associated with a higher-performing organization. In con- trast, strategic change involves aligning the organizations strategy with its mission while accounting for technical, cultural, environmental, social, and political systems (Beckhard & Harris, 1977). For example, the organization might reach out to its local community regard- ing recycling or pollution reduction (environmental and political strategy), adopt a new social networking marketing campaign (technical strategy), or make deliberate efforts to shift the organization culture through leadership development, management reorganization, or mergers and acquisitions (cultural strategy). Strategic change usually follows some type of

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Section 1.2The History of OD

upheaval that may be unplanned, such as a change in government regulations, competition, new technology, or a new leader. Such strategic disruptions have occurred on a national scale in the United Statesfor example, with health care legislation, the rapid and broad adoption of smartphones, and the volatility of regional, national, and international politics.

Organization Learning and the Learning Organization (1990s) ODs concentration on culture and strategic change fueled the interest in learning as a key lever in creating high-performing organizations in the 1990s. The shift to learning also paral- lels the rise of the knowledge society, the cultural and social shift away from industrializa- tion to an economy based on service and intellectual work.

How an organization acquires and uses knowledge is known as organization learning. It involves ongoing, collaborative learning among the employees. Song, Joo, and Chermack (2009) described organization learning as the collaborative learning process of individuals . . . [the] learning processes that transform local or individual knowledge into collective knowl- edge (p. 47). A key benefit of organization learning is that it can help organizations be more competitive when they enhance their capacity to create, share, and preserve knowledge.

When organizations attempt to use learning as a strategic advantage and create infrastruc- ture and interventions to do so, they are striving to become a learning organization. This concept was popularized by Peter Senges 1990 book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Prac- tice of the Learning Organization. Senge (1990) defined learning organizations as organiza- tions where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free and where people are continually learning how to learn together (p. 56). Watkins and Marsick (1993) suggested a learning organization is one that learns continuously and can transform itself (p. 8). They developed the Dimensions of the Learning Organization Ques- tionnaire (DLOQ), which measures learning organization capacity in seven areas:

1. Continuous learning: Opportunities for ongoing education and growth are available, and learning is built into the work itself to promote on-the-job learning.

2. Inquiry and dialogue: The organization culture is built around developing the capac- ity to listen and inquire into the assumptions and perspectives of others. Question- ing and feedback are welcome behaviors.

3. Team learning: Teams are expected to learn and create new knowledge together. 4. Embedded system: Systems to capture and share learning exist and are integrated

with work and available for employees to access. 5. Empowerment: Organization members are involved in creating and implementing a

shared vision and share responsibility for attaining it. 6. System connection: The organization is connected to its broader communities. 7. Strategic leadership: The leaders are committed to using learning as a business strat-

egy and support learning efforts.

Contemporary Trends (2000sPresent) Organization effectiveness and employee engagement were hot trends at the start of the 21st century and continue to have prominence. Anderson (2012) explained that the idea of organization effectiveness is not notably different from organization development and that

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Section 1.2The History of OD

it was part of Beckhards (1969) classic definition. However, the shift may be away from devel- opment, which some viewed as a soft term, and more toward more practical efforts to quan- tify OD activities and outcomes. Nevertheless, former PepsiCo chair Roger Enrico is noted for saying, The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff (as cited in LeadershipNow, n.d., para. 19), meaning that working on soft human relations issues such as communication, leadership, team cohesion, conflict resolution, and the like is much more challenging than repairing hard problems related to machinery, correcting defects, and analyzing organiza- tions financial waste.

To learn about the essentials of an effective organization and how they relate to productivity, Haid, Schroeder-Saulnier, Sims, and Wang (2010) conducted a global study of nearly 29,000 employees from 10 major industry sectors in 15 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia- Pacific. Review the report Organizational Effectiveness: Discovering How to Make It Happen at the following link: Effectiveness-Discovering-How-to-Make-It-Happen.

Interventions that promote employee involvement and satisfaction are collectively known as employee engagement. This trend may harken back to the employee involvement and empowerment initiatives that were characteristic of QWL/TQM programs in the 1980s. Anderson (2012) noted that this return to individual concerns may be a measure to coun- teract the emergence of organization effectiveness. Noting that organization effectiveness and employee engagement may be too young to gauge as true OD trends, Anderson (2012) observed that they are receiving attention in practice, if not research. Shuck, Adelson, and Reio (2017) argued that engaged workers bring their full selves into their work roles with cognitive, emotional, and physical investment in their organizational lives. Their article fea- tures the development and testing of the Employee Engagement Scale, a tool to measure employee engagement.

The context of the 2010s is commonly referred to by the acronym VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The term originated in the U.S. military in the 1980s, attributed to Commandant M. G. Thompson as part of the US Army War College Experience (U.S. Army and Heritage Education Center, n.d.). VUCA has since been adopted broadly to describe the current and future state of the world as we grapple with the megatrends of globalization, technology, individualization, demographic change, digitization, political uncertainty, eco- nomic instability, and environmental crisis, where a state of VUCA is the new normal (van der Steege, 2017). VUCA conditions permeate social, economic, cultural, political, and environ- mental conditions, creating wicked problems, defined by Rittel and Webber (1973) as stub- born and the result of open social systems when theory is inadequate for accurate forecasting, our current knowledge is insufficient to the task, and pluralities in politics make achieving unified aims impossible. Solving wicked problems in a VUCA age requires cross-functional and cross-generational teams.

Cross-functional teams can best be described by the rise of the T-shaped professional. T-shaped professionals are deep problem solvers in their home discipline but also capa- ble of interacting with and understanding specialists from a wide range of disciplines and functional areas (Ing, 2008, para. 3). Represented by a metaphorical letter T (see Figure 1.1), the vertical bar represents deep expertise in a discipline such as finance and a system such as banking, while the horizontal bar represents boundary-crossing skills such as team- work, collaboration, or cultural competence that allow the professional to collaborate across

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Section 1.2The History of OD

disciplines. The model is being used in both higher education and business (Bierema, 2019), as well as in health professions education (Bierema, 2018) and continuing professional edu- cation (Bierema, 2016a).

Figure 1.1: T-shaped professional

T-shaped professionals possess deep expertise in a discipline and understanding of and experience in a system (such as health care or government) in combination with skills that cross disciplines and allow them to collaborate across disciplines to solve problems.

Baby boomers are entering retirement in increasing numbers, and according to the Pew Research Center, the entire generation will reach age 65 by 2030 (Heimlich, 2010). Huge numbers of retirees create a skills gap, and organizations are faced with engaging in careful succession planninga process to develop strategies for how strategic positions will be staffed in the future. Creating cross-generational teams is one intervention for building capac- ity among younger generations, as well as the ability to work across differences in age and the cultural differences and conflicts that arise in multigenerational work groups.

Technology-enabled learning via just-in-time mobile access and gamification are also becom- ing more common. In fact, the use of smartphones in the United States increased from 35% in 2011 to 77% in 2016, the use of tablets jumped from 3% in 2010 to 51% in 2016, and nine out of 10 adults in the United States are online (Smith, 2017). The explosive growth of

Boundary-crossing competencies

Teamwork, communication, emotional intelligence, networking,

critical thinking, understanding, organizational skills,

program management, cultural competence





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Section 1.3The OD Consultant

smartphones and tablets has led to the creation and adoption of apps for business to enhance teamwork and productivity, such as GoToMeeting (, a meet- ing scheduling and document platform, and Slack (, a platform where teams manage projects, conversations, messaging, and files with a powerful search engine.

Gamification refers to software programs that simulate video games and provide workers the opportunity to compete, earn badges, achieve rewards, and garner bragging rights as they fulfill their work. Amazon is one example of how the company turned monotonous, low-skill warehouse work into a game (Bensinger, 2019). This experiment allows thousands of the companys pickers and stowers to play video games all day, as they complete their ware- house jobs. According to Bensinger, Some compete by racing virtual dragons or sports cars around a track, while others collaborate to build castles piece by piece (para. 1). The workers are not just playing games; they are using a video game format to make their tedious work more engaging and efficient. Uber and Lyft also use such programs to motivate drivers to spend longer hours on the road. Such innovations are not free from criticism, though: Some say they are not a substitute for raising the minimum wage and they allow high levels of managerial surveillance of workers.

The interventions profiled in this section have traced OD from its beginnings in the 1940s with T-groups focusing on individual behavior and accountability, to strategic interventions focusing on the organizational systems effectiveness and health, to how megatrends of tech- nology and an aging work force are creating VUCA conditions that require new teamwork models and solutions to problems. OD is both change oriented and learning oriented, and each of these innovations has advanced organization practices and policies and will continue to do so.

Now that you have a better sense of what OD involves, you may be wondering who imple- ments it. The next section explores the values, competencies, and ethics of the OD consultant.

1.3The OD Consultant Awareness of OD can help you participate more effectively in an organizational inter- vention or prompt you to decide to talk to an OD consultant to facilitate organization change. This section describes OD consul- tants and identifies the values, ethics, and competencies needed for effective practice as well as professional communities.

Who Is the OD Consultant? There are at least three types of OD consul- tants (Cummings & Worley, 2009):

The first type includes internal or external consultants. Internal

Kerkez/iStock/Getty Images Plus OD practitioners collaborate with clients to plan and implement change. They can be either internal or external to the organization.

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Section 1.3The OD Consultant

consultants are employed by the organization as permanent employees. External consultants are not members of the organization and are hired on a temporary basis. OD consultants typically have advanced training in the field, subscribe to humanistic values, and have expertise in group dynamics, facilitation, decision making, coaching, leadership, and other social process areas.

The second type are often management consultants working in content-oriented fields related to OD, such as total quality, organization design, reward systems, infor- mation technology, or business strategy. They work in conjunction with OD consul- tants to implement interventions.

The third type includes managers who apply OD to their own functional areas. Although they may not be formally trained in OD, their organizations provide train- ing, and they gain experience from interventions they are responsible for managing. This manager-as-OD-practitioner is on the rise as organizations attempt to rapidly implement change. Managers often build this expertise by working with OD consul- tants in ongoing change programs in their organizations.

Cummings and Worley (2009) noted that the distinctions between these three types of OD consultants are blurring. Likely, that is due to the range of OD practiced in diverse organiza- tions and the reality that some individuals functioning as consultants are not trained in the theories and practices of OD.

OD Values and Ethics Humanism has already been introduced as an underlying philosophy of OD. People who embrace humanism seek to trust and respect others and help them develop and grow. They also value democracy, equity, and fair treatment. In OD, this translates into creating healthy, equitable, affirming organizations for all members.

Anderson (2012) translated ODs history of humanism into modern-day values that include

1. participation, involvement, and empowerment; 2. groups and teams; 3. growth, development, and learning; 4. valuing the whole person; 5. dialogue and collaboration; and 6. authenticity, openness, and trust.

Each will be discussed in the following sections to further illuminate how OD values play out in practice.

Participation, Involvement, and Empowerment OD is not about consultants prescribing change in isolation. Rather, it is a collaborative, demo- cratic partnership in which organization members have input throughout the process and co- own the change. This value reflects an understanding that changes endure only when system members have involvement and say in the changes chosen (Schein, 1990). That is why inter- ventions that promote organization members participation, involvement, and empowerment are so highly valued in OD. Examples of these types of interventions include participative management, T-groups, survey feedback, quality of work life, and learning organizations.

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Section 1.3The OD Consultant

Groups and Teams An organization relies on groups and teams to do its work. Groups and teams are often the focus of OD interventions. Beckhard (1969) emphasized that the basic building blocks of an organization are groups (teams) (p. 26). A key competency for OD practitioners is to understand group dynamics and strategies for facilitating group processes. High-performing groups and teams are built on productive relationships among members, high levels of com- munication, clearly defined roles, specific goals, the ability to resolve conflict, and recognition for goal attainment. When groups and teams are high performing, they create great results for the organization.

Growth, Development, and Learning Organization development introduces planned change to organizations, and for the change to stick, it usually requires learning on behalf of organization members. Perhaps the value that differentiates organization development from most other management and consulting work is its emphasis on growth, development, and learning (Anderson, 2012, p. 42). This value is also in sync with the reality that adults are continually learning, developing, and changing throughout their lives (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). A significant amount of adult learning happens in the workplace, whether it is formal education in a field such as accounting, formal training on how to use computer software, informal learning where workers observe or ask coworkers how something is done, or incidental learning that is a byproduct of something else (for instance, one might observe interpersonal dynamics between colleagues during a meeting and conclude they do not like each other). Valuing growth, development, and learn- ing also fits with ODs humanistic philosophy that through learning and development we can turn around nonperforming individuals and teams, learn what is preventing optimal perfor- mance, and create organizations that promote, rather than impede, learning.

Valuing the Whole Person Consider yourself. You probably have a job title, but this is not the totality of who you are. In addition to that, you have roles, hobbies, interests, and relationships outside work. Sometimes in organization life we typecast people based on their positions and fail to consider their input or interest in issues beyond the scope of their job. For example, a secretary might be heavily involved in community service, serving on nonprofit boards, holding key leadership roles, facilitating meetings, and leading strategic planning. These experiences could provide valuable insights to her organization, yet when it comes to setting organization strategy, no one thinks to engage her because she is a secretary. Valuing the whole person means seeing organization members as people, not positions. It involves treating people with respect and inviting their participation. It also incorporates creating an environment that values diversity and inclusionone where people feel welcome and valued regardless of age, race, gender, class, national origin, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, physical ability, and so forth.

Dialogue and Collaboration Organization development, when done well, promotes the overall well-being of the company. This might be visible through humanistic policies and practices, innovative learning and devel- opment programs, inclusive hiring and advancement practices, or good environmental stew- ardship. A key value in organization development is the creation of healthy environments that

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Section 1.3The OD Consultant

promote collaboration rather than competition, with the assumption that a winwin solution is both possible and more desirable than conflict (Anderson, 2012, p. 44). Well-being in orga- nizations continues to be widely studied in OD research today (Joo, Zigarmi, Nimon, & Shuck, 2017). How individuals and groups communicate with each other has a significant impact on whether collaboration is possible. Our cultural communication pattern in the United States is debate centered. That is, people often take a winlose stance in conversations. The exchange is not about creating meaning or understanding, but rather about swaying the other person to your way of thinking. This type of advocacy-based conversation is known as discussion (Ellinor & Gerard, 1998; Senge, 1990). Discussion is not necessarily bad, because advocating ideas is necessary for us to make decisions. Where it breaks down is when an advocacy stance is the only mode of discourse used. All you need to do is turn on talk radio or television to see dailyif not hourlyexamples of this highly confrontational, negative, nonproductive form of discourse at its extreme. Sadly, it has become the default way of communicating in many social settings, including organizations.

An alternative form of discourse is one in which you do not seek to prove your views as right or superior, but rather to understand differing, perhaps contradictory, viewpoints. This is known as dialogue, or inquiry-based communication. To conduct a dialogue effectively, you must suspend judgment of various viewpoints, identify your assumptions, truly listen to oth- ers, and practice inquiry and reflection (Ellinor & Gerard, 1998). When we have a dialogue, rather than trying to determine who has the right answer, we usually generate new meanings and ways of thinking no one had thought of previously. OD practitioners must become experts at dialogue because it effectively invites the client into the conversation. Rarely should an OD practitioner give clients the answer or tell them what to do. Instead, the consultant might say, What is not working? What is one thing we could do today to begin addressing the prob- lem? What I hear you saying is . . . Would you say more about that?

Learning how to conduct a dialogue is important for implementing effective philosophy and practicing OD because it helps build collaborative relationships and bridge understanding. It also builds knowledge and tolerance because it is based on inquiry rather than advocacy and explores new ideas. Discussion is useful when the group is ready to make a decisionideally after the group or organization has done its best thinking and meaning makingthrough dialogue. The key is to find ways to balance the use of discussion and dialogue.

Authenticity, Openness, and Trust Authentic behavior with a client means you put into words what you are experiencing with the client as you work. According to Block, This is the most powerful thing you can do to have the leverage you are looking for and to build client commitment (1999, p. 37).

Authenticity as an OD practitioner involves candidly sharing observations or asking ques- tions of clients without alienating them. Being authentic means sharing honest feedback with the client in a way that saves face. Valuing authenticity, openness, and trust enables OD prac- titioners to identify the elephant in the room in a tactful and respectful manner.

A consultant once worked with a very command-and-control president whom most employ- ees feared. She found herself greatly affected by his mood. In one of their meetings, he shared that he was perplexed about how to better motivate his work force. She looked at him and said, You know, I think you should just try smiling for a change and see what kind of results

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Section 1.3The OD Consultant

you get. The president was furious at the frivolous suggestion and threw her out of his office. Nonetheless, after about three weeks, he called the consultant back and admitted, You were right. He could not believe the effect a visible change in his demeanor had on his employees. The consultant in this story risked being authentic with the client and in the end was able to have a profound influence on him when he realized his effect on the organization. When OD practitioners are successful with authenticity, clients become more open and trust the relationship. See Tips and Wisdom: Five Reasons to Smile More as a Leader to see how other OD consultants use smiling as an intervention.

OD Code of Ethics OD practitioners abide by the International Society for Organization Development and Changes code of ethics, last revised in 2014. It is available at

ODs humanistic orientation is evident throughout this code, in its emphasis on quality of life, health, justice, dignity, winwin outcomes, holistic perspectives, and participative decision making.

Competencies of OD Practitioners A consultant is one who provides help, counsel, advice, and support, which implies that such a person is wiser than most people (Burke, 1992, p. 173). According to Cummings and Wor- ley (2009), OD consultants need the following foundational competencies to be effective at OD. Foundational competencies represent the theoretical knowledge that is helpful when doing OD work. This theoretical knowledge includes an understanding of

organizational behavior, individual psychology,

Tips and Wisdom: Five Reasons to Smile More as a Leader 1. It helps others relax. 2. It draws people to you. 3. It enables you to connect. 4. It creates positive culture. 5. It elevates your mood.

For more context on these reasons, visit this blog post by a leader in the field of OD.

Consider This What aspects of the OD code of ethics resonate with you? How well are you living up to this code? How well is your organization living up to this code?

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Section 1.3The OD Consultant

group dynamics, management and organization

theory, research methods and statistics, comparative cultural perspectives,

and functional knowledge of business.

Beyond this theoretical knowledge is a host of competencies related to facilitating an OD process and engaging with your cli- ent interpersonally. The Organization Development Network has provided a comprehensive list of OD competencies on its website ( page/odcompetencies).

The list includes 16 areas with 141 competencies that make OD practitioners effective. The 16 areas include the following:

1. Marketing services as an OD practitioner or consultant 2. Enrolling the client by building trust 3. Contracting with the client to establish the boundaries of the consulting relationship 4. Conducting a mini-assessment to clarify issues, pinpoint biases, and identify power

relations 5. Diagnosing the root problem using a process of data collection and analysis 6. Sharing feedback of the data analysis with the client 7. Planning the appropriate intervention based on data analysis and feedback 8. Facilitating participation of key stakeholders in the decision making and implemen-

tation of the intervention 9. Implementing the intervention to address the root problem

10. Conducting an evaluation to assess whether the intervention effectively solved the problem

11. Following up with the organization to monitor and adjust the changes made as a result of the intervention

12. Monitoring the clients adoption of the changes 13. Facilitating the separation of the consultant from the organization (promoting client

independence) 14. Developing and enhancing self-awareness to ensure you are functioning at a high

level of mental, physical, spiritual, and intellectual health 15. Honing your interpersonal skills in a way that makes you a role model to the client

due to building trust with, listening to, and respecting others 16. Managing other areas of OD competency that build cultural sensitivity, technical

competence, and ongoing learning to stay current and relevant as an OD practitioner

You may be thinking that this is a formidable list! The array of technical, diagnostic, and inter- personal skills is somewhat daunting and requires those who practice OD to engage in con- tinuous learning, growth, and development. This ongoing self-improvement helps us develop

Hiraman/E+/Getty Images Plus One of the 16 areas of being an effective OD practitioner is planning based on data analysis and feedback.

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Section 1.3The OD Consultant

into leaders and role models our clients want to listen to and emulate. These core competen- cies will be examined in more detail later in this book.

Burke (1992) stated that having foundational and core competencies is necessary but not sufficient to do OD. He added important interpersonal competencies for effective practice:

Tolerating ambiguity. There are no recipes for OD because every organization and problem is unique and requires a customized solution.

Influencing the client. Consultants rarely have formal organizational power to imple- ment interventions, making persuasive skills imperative. Block (1999) eloquently summed up the life of a consultant as having influence without power.

Being direct. As discussed in the authenticity section, this requires confronting dif- ficult issues that no one wants to raise.

Providing support. Clients need support as they encounter challenges related to change, such as conflict, resistance, or stress.

Controlling your own emotions. Your presence, behaviors, and comments sig- nificantly influence the client and organization. Remember to behave calmly and respectfully.

Recognizing and using teachable moments. OD is a learning process for the client, so it is important to recognize and use teachable moments as they arise.

Maintaining a sense of humor. Consulting work can be challenging and stressful, so humor is a good tension breaker.

Executive presence. This means exuding self-confidence, interpersonal savvy, and a sense of mission about your work.

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