Organizational Development Overview


Organizational Development Concept

Organizational Development (OD) is a practice to help organizations build the capacity to change and achieve greater effectiveness.

The leadership team, based on assessed needs to solve operational problems or to improve organizational effectiveness, usually initiates OD. Involving employees through bottom-up inputs is enabling to complete OD diagnoses from various angles and levels of point of views.

The objective of OD is to improve the organization’s capacity to handle internal and external functioning and relationships, improving group dynamics, organizational structure, and particularly, more effective and collaborative management of organizational culture.

Situational awareness is the first result based on diagnosis presentation and discussions. OD is focused on the people, the roles they undertake, and the systems and culture within they operate.

Analytical findings are the base for OD interventions planning. OD is using Change Management principles to change deployment, stabilization, and the evaluation loop for the next level of organizational development.  

Figure 1: Organizational Development Concept- The Development Loop

OD Development LoopTop of Page

Organizational Development Content Framework

OD is both an effective diagnostic tool, and a development tool, using OD projects and strategic and operational interventions that lead to change in an organization. Strategically, OD is a long-range effect to improve organization’s problem solving and renewal processes. Operationally, OD looks at how groups and organizations function - how people interact to accomplish their work.

Figure 2: Why, What and How OD Framework, and Key Content Elements

OD Framework
Organizational interventions are the way to implement strategic and operational changes. Planned interventions stem from diagnosed needs to align organizational elements with the unit’s strategy.

Figure 3: Elements of Organizational Alignments

Elements of Organizational AlignmentsTop of Page

Organizational Development Process

Organizational Development recognizes the importance of top management’s commitment, support, and involvement. It also affirms a bottom-up approach to collect inputs from employees. Starting from the leadership team initiatives and defined OD goals, the first step is to conduct an internal and external perception survey – usually through confidential face-to-face and one-on-one interviews.

Next step in the OD process is to present survey findings to all employees, achieving high starting effects through instant and wide situational awareness.  It is important to maintain a full OD transparency, regarding recommended future directions and steps. Those initial OD findings are also powerful feedback, both upstream and downstream, which is usually a missing or a weak link in the organizational communication, situational leadership, and evaluation efforts.  

Figure 4: Organizational Development Process and Evaluation Loop

OD Process and Evaluation Loop
Based on the diagnostic findings and recommendations, the next step is to define the OD action plan. Revisiting the organization’s core values, norms, and desirable behaviors is, along with other elements of the organizational clarity represent the development foundation for every organization.

Reinforcing organizational clarity is one of the most effective ways to build trust, effective communication, conflict resolution approach, commitment and accountability.

Through OD, organizations can improve effectiveness, achieve goals, build capacity, and creatively manage challenges and change improving group dynamics, organizational structure, and particularly , more effective and collaborative management of organizational culture. The ultimate outcome is improved operational efficiency and organizational effectiveness.  

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Organizational Development Strategy Map

OD Strategy Map is visually summarizing relations between key strategic perspectives addressing various groups of critical success factors. People perspective is all about learning and development. This perspective is enabling next level: process perspective.

Analyzing and improving key work processes, and especially their human side (hoe people communicate, interact, make decisions, solve problems, resolve conflicts, etc.), is next level of organizational development, enabling customer perspective elements.

Links between employee learning and growing factors, core work processes factors, and customer satisfaction factors represent the result logic chain. The ultimate level is WWU stakeholders’ perspective, focused on achieving the organization mission: excellence in services.


Figure 5: OD Strategy Map, with Critical Success Factors for Each of Four Key Strategic Perspectives.

OD Strategy Map
Organizational Development driving forces are laying in achieved

  • Organizational clarity, keeping overall strategic direction clear and aligned with defined goals,
  • Efficiency strategy, maintaining productivity, and
  • Growth strategy, maintaining organizational adaptability and longevity.

These objectives stem from a values system based on an optimistic view and that a supportive environment is capable of achieving higher levels of development and accomplishment.

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Page Updated 06.15.2013