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Organization Development

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Organization Development ­ MGMT 628
Lesson 02
OD: A Unique Change Strategy
Consulting to organizations can take many forms. For example, Edgar Schein describes three consulting
Purchase of Expertise Model
Doctor-patient Model
Process Consultation Model
In the "purchase of expertise model," a leader or group identifies a need for information or expertise
that the organization cannot supply. The leader hires a consultant to obtain the information and make a
report, often including recommendations for action. Example would be (1) surveying consumers or
employees about some matter, (2) finding out how best to organize the company after a merger, or (3)
developing a marketing strategy for a new product. This is a typical consulting approach that is widely used.
In the "doctor-patient model," a leader or group detects symptoms of ill health in some part of the
organization, and calls in a consultant who diagnoses the situation, identifies the causes of problems and
then, like a physician, prescribes a cure. Examples would be calling in "the doctor" to examine (1) low
morale at a particular plant, (2) being over budget and behind schedule on a major project, or (3) a high-
performing manager who suddenly becomes a low-performer. This too is a well-known, traditional
approach to consultation.
In the "process consultation model," the consultant works with the leader and group to diagnose
strengths and weaknesses, identify problems and opportunities, and develop action plans and methods for
reaching desired goals. In this model the consultant assists the client organization in becoming more
effective at examining and improving its own processes of problem solving, decision-making and action
taking. This third model, typical in OD, encourages greater collaboration between clients and consultants,
engages the resources and talents of the clients, and strengthens clients' abilities to improve their work
processes. Examples would include working on any of the previously mentioned problems, but using a
collaborative, participative, you-can-figure-out-the-right-answer-yourselves approach. An organization
development consultant typically suggests general processes and procedures for addressing problems and
issues. The consultant helps the clients generate valid data and learn from the data. The OD consultant is
an expert on process-how to "go about" effective problem solving and decision making.
Thus, OD differs substantially from traditional "expert" models of consulting in its overall approach.
Likewise, OD practitioners have different goals and focus on different targets compared with other
consulting models. Here is a list of "primary distinguishing characteristics of organization development"
1. Change: OD is a planned strategy to bring about organizational change. The change effort focuses on
the human and social side of the organization and in so doing, also intervenes in the technological and
structural sides.
2. Collaborate: OD typically involves a collaborative approach to change that includes the involvement
and participation of the organization members most affected by the changes. Participation and involvement
in problem solving and decision making by all levels of the organization are hallmarks of OD.
3. Performance: OD programs include an emphasis on ways to improve and enhance performance and
4. Humanistic: OD relies on a set of humanistic values about people and organizations that aims at
making organizations more effective by opening up new opportunities for increased use of human
5. Systems: OD represents a systems approach concerned with the interrelationship of divisions,
departments, groups, and individuals as interdependent subsystems of the total organization.
6. Scientific: OD is based upon scientific approaches to increase organization effectiveness.
While the six characteristics, described above, describe organization development, let us add another means
of identifying OD.
An OD Program is a long-range, planned, and sustained effort that unfolds according to a
The key elements here are long range, planned and sustained, and strategy.
Let's look at each one independently:
Long-range: The reason for OD practitioners and theorists conceptualizing OD programs in long-range
terms are several. First, changing a system's culture and processes is a difficult, complicated, and long-term
matter if lasting change is to be effected. OD programs envision that the system members become better
able to manage their culture and processes in problem-solving and self-renewing ways. Such complex new
learning takes time. Second, the assumption is made that organizational problems are multifaceted and
complex. One-shot interventions probably cannot solve such problems, and they most assuredly cannot
teach the client system to solve them in such a short time period.
Organization Development ­ MGMT 628
There is a long-range time perspective on the part of both the client system and the consultant in OD
program. Both parties envision an ongoing relationship of one, two, or more years together if things go
well in the program. A one-short intervention into the system is thus not organization development
according to this criterion even though the intervention may be one that is used in OD efforts.
Planned and Sustained effort: OD involves deliberately planned change, as contrasted with system
"drifts." Unlike an innovative project or program it is generally not limited to a specific period of time. To
implement OD, an organizational subsystem ­ such as a Department of OD ­ is created and charged with
the specific responsibility for planning, managing, and evaluating the continuous process of organizational
self-renewal. Members of such a subsystem act as inside change agents or OD development specialists ...
and usually link with outside consultants to carry out their mission. The essential concept is that some
fraction of an organization's resources is devoted to continuous organizational maintenance, rebuilding,
and expansion. Such a concept is familiar to managers in the field of plant maintenance but is much less
widely known and accepted in the maintenance of the human organization.
Organizations are not easily or quickly transformed. The available evidence suggests that in large
organizations two to three years of OD effort is typical before the completion of serious and self-sustaining
change. In addition, it must be borne in mind that an organization is never transformed permanently.
Instead, institutionalized, built-in OD functions must continually be involved in facing the dilemmas and
vicissitudes of organizational renewal.
There is, however, a point that is a source of some confusion. When some good management practices are
taking place in an organization without an OD program ­ for example, a manager has worked out effective
ways to manage team and inter-group culture and processes ­ is that organization development? We do
not think so. OD practitioners try to inculcate good management practices in organizations, that is, they try
to help organization members learn to manage themselves and others better. But many managers and many
organizations are competently managing their affairs without help from organization development
consultants and OD programs; what they are doing would not be called OD even though they may be
using some techniques found in the OD technology. OD practitioners did not invent good management
practices; OD practitioners are not the sole source for learning good management practices; and finally, the
term organization development is not synonymous with the term good management.
Strategy: OD programs unfold according to a strategy. A part of the planned nature of OD programs
almost always involves an overall strategy even though the strategy may be only dimly obvious and
articulate, and even though the strategy may emerge and change shape over time. (From our experience, the
more viable OD efforts have a fairly clear and openly articulated strategy.) Consultants and clients develop
overall goals and paths to goals on organization development programs, and these guide the programmatic
activities. It is preferable and usual for the strategy to be developed out of the diagnosed problems of the
client system, the client system's desires and capabilities, and the consultant's capabilities and insights into
client system needs.
The OD consultant establishes a unique relationship with client system members:
Probably the most fundamental differences between organization development programs and other
organization development programs are found in the role and behavior of the consultant vis-à-vis the client
system. In OD the consultant seeks and maintains a collaborative relationship of relative equality with the
organization members. Collaboration means "to labor together" ­ essentially it implies that the consultant
does not do all the work while the client system passively waits for solutions to its problems; and it means
that the client system does not do all the work while the consultant is a disinterested observer. In
organization development, consultant and client co-labor.
A second distinguishing feature of the consultant-client relationship is that it is one of relative equality ­ the
two parties come together as relative equals, each possessing knowledge and skills different from but
needed by the other. The client group is encouraged to critique the consultant's program and his or her
effectiveness in terms of meeting client system needs and wants. In OD the consultant's role is generally
that of a facilitator, not an expert on matters of content; the consultant acts primarily as a question-asker,
and secondarily as an answer-giver.
The consultant's role is often described as nondirective and that is partially true, but the rationale behind
this nondirective posture is less well understood. The OD consultant role rests on three beliefs. The first
belief is simply an affirmation of the efficacy of division of labor and responsibility: let the consultant be
responsible for doing what he or she does best (structuring activities designed to solve certain problems);
and let the client system do what it does best (bring to bear its special knowledge and expertise on the
problem and alternative solutions). The second belief is derived from the question: Where is the best
solution to this problem likely to be found? In situations where the consultant is an expert role, the answer
to the question is that the best solution is in the consultant's head due to that person's education,
experience, and expertise. Both clients and consultant believe this. In organization development situations
Organization Development ­ MGMT 628
where the consultant is playing an enabling and facilitating role, the answer is that the best solution is in the
heads of the client members and the challenge is to structure situations to allow it to become known. The
third belief is that the responsibility for changing something rests ultimately in the client system members,
not in the consultant. Therefore the members of the client system must "own" the problem and the
solution, and that is best done when they generate both the problems and the solutions. This belief no
doubt rests on Lewin's conceptualization of "own" and "induced" forces. Lewin believed, and
demonstrated, that an individual's own forces toward a particular behavior were more powerful in
determining the behavior than forces/motives/pushes induced by some outside agent.
The consultant is both expert and directive on matters relating to the best ways to facilitate/enable the
client group to approach, diagnose, and solve its problems. In organization development, it is this expertise
that the clients expect from the consultant - the expertise to offer the clients effective ways to work on
problems, not answers to problems.
The nature of the intervention differentiates OD from other improvement strategies:
OD consultants fashion, conduct, or cause to happen, interventions ­ structured sets of activities and
events in the life of the organization designed to achieve certain outcomes. As indicated in Fig (definitions
of OD), the nature of these interventions is that they are reflective, self-analytical, self-examining, proactive,
diagnostically oriented, and action oriented. Further, they focus on the organization culture and its human
processes. OD consultants try to inculcate diagnostic skills, self-analytical skills, and reflexive skills in
organization members, based on the belief that the organization's members must be able to diagnose
situations accurately in order to arrive at successful solutions. But there are several additional beliefs in this
statement. Diagnosis and self-reflection are necessary skills to have for problem solution ­ that is a belief of
OD consultants. But who should possess those skills? "The client system members," answer OD
consultants; "me," answer expert consultants. This is a key difference in the OD prescription. Another
belief involved here is the belief that both the problems and the solutions to the problems abound in the
client system members. Teaching the client system to diagnose and solve problems and take corrective
actions is the goal of the OD consultant. The overriding goal is that the client system members learn to do
it themselves. This tenet derives from nondirective therapy notions suggesting that responsibility for
improvement and change rests in the individual (organization) that needs to change, not some outside
agent. This is supported by most discussions of normalcy and maturity in psychotherapy that include the
patient's ability to solve problems, adapt effectively, and cope effectively as criteria for a healthy organism.
Many authors, including Gordon Lippitt, speak of the organization "learning from experience," and the
OD literature suggests that "learning how to learn" is a desired outcome of OD interventions. This is what
is being discussed: that the client system becomes expert in self-examination, diagnosis, and corrective
action taking.
Planning, problem solving, and self-renewal are also mentioned as important processes for the client system
to be reflexive about. The same overriding goal applies here: the client system members must learn to
manage these processes effectively by themselves. There is thus a unique character to the nature of OD
interventions: the intent that the client system becomes proficient in solving its own problems ­ present
and future ­ by itself. The ancient Chinese proverb seems to describe the underlying rationale: `Give a man
a fish, and you have given him a meal; teach a man to fish, and you have given him a livelihood."
System improvement: The emphasis of OD is on the system, rather than the individual, as the target of
change. In this respect the approach differs from "sensitivity training" and "management development."
"System" may mean either an entire organization or a subsystem such as an academic department or team
of teachers. The emphasis however is always on improving both the ability of a system to cope and the
relationships of the system with subsystems and with the environment. Individuals, of course, often gain
insights and new attitudes during such improvement processes, but the primary concern of OD is with
such matters as adequate organizational communication, the integration of individual and organizational
goals, the development of a climate of trust in decision making, and the effect of the reward system on
Reflexive, self-analytic methods: OD involves system members themselves in the assessment, diagnosis,
and transformation of their own organization. Rather than simply accepting diagnosis and prescription
from an outside "technocratic" expert, organization members themselves, with the aid of outside
consultants, examine current difficulties and their causes and participate actively in the reformulation of
goals, the development of new group process skills, the redesign of structures and procedures for achieving
the goals, the alteration of the working climate of the system, and the assessment of results.
The targets of OD interventions differentiate OD from other improvement strategies:
The OD prescription calls for certain configurations of people as targets of OD interventions ­ intact work
groups, two or more work-related groups, subsystems of organizations, and total organizations. Katz and
Organization Development ­ MGMT 628
Kahn speak of "role sets," the offices (positions) and people an individual interacts with while performing
role-relevant behavior in an organization. They state:
Each member of an organization is directly associated with a relatively small number of others, usually the
occupants of offices adjacent to his in the work-flow structure or in the hierarchy of authority. They
constitute his role set and typically include his immediate supervisor (and perhaps his supervisor's
immediate supervisor), his subordinates, and certain members of his own or other virtue of the work-flow,
technology, and authority structure of the organization.
Many of an individual's values, norms, and perceptions of organizational reality are derived from contact
with role-set members. Role enactment problems derive from interaction with role-set members. A
person's immediate work group, immediate supervisor, and immediate subordinates are immensely
important factors for an individual's effectiveness in an organization. OD interventions concentrate on
work-relevant constellations of people in the belief that these groups have inherent in them considerable
power to determine individual and group behavior and also contain many of the sources of organizational
What goes on between units is also of vital importance in organizational effectiveness. OD goes beyond
intact work teams and also focuses on enhancing key interdependences across units and levels. For
example, data are typically collected about the degree of cooperation versus dysfunctional competition
between the various units, and identified problems are then worked on with members of the relevant
groups present. Thus, intergroup configurations are a second major target of OD interventions.
A third target of OD interventions is the organization's processes and culture. In a sense, OD is
comprehensive long-term effort to collaboratively manage the culture of an organization (since processes
can be considered part of organization culture). As shown in Figure 1, some of the authors mention culture
and some of the authors mention human and social processes as the targets of OD interventions. Problem-
solving, planning, self-renewal, decision-making, and communications processes are identified as important
processes. This focus on culture and processes is simply a part of the bet/hypothesis/belief system that
OD consultants have: culture and processes are important strategic leverage points in an organization for
bringing about organization improvement and change. Other consultants and practitioners make different
bets on the best strategic leverage points ­ the technology of the organization, the structure of the
organization, its design, and so forth. OD consultants, because they are working with a behavioral science
knowledge base, focus on culture and processes. And the OD prescription suggests that these two targets
are important ingredients in the process of planned organizational change.
OD consultants utilize a behavioral science base:
This is a characteristic of the practice of OD, but it is shared by many different improvement strategies.
The behavioral science knowledge base of the practice of OD contributes to its distinctive gestalt. OD is an
applied field in which theories, concepts, and practices from sociology, psychology, social psychology,
education, economics, psychiatry, and management are brought to bear on real organizational problems.
The desired outcomes of OD are distinctive in nature:
The desired outcomes of OD efforts are both similar to other improvement strategies, and different from
other improvement strategies. OD programs and efforts are designed to produce organizational
effectiveness and health, better system functioning, greater ability to achieve objectives, and so forth, as
shown in some of the definitions in Figure 1. But some of the definitions point additional desired
outcomes: outcomes relating to a changed organizational culture, to changed processes (especially renewal
and adaptation processes) and to the establishing of norms of continual self-study and pro-action.
Michael Beer lists the aims of OD as: "(1) enhancing congruence between organizational structure,
processes, strategy, people, and culture; (2) developing new and creative organizational solutions, and (3)
developing the organization's self-renewing capacity.' It is these self-renewal outcomes that seem
particularly distinctive in the OD process.
Table of Contents:
  1. The Challenge for Organizations:The Growth and Relevance of OD
  2. OD: A Unique Change Strategy:OD consultants utilize a behavioral science base
  3. What an “ideal” effective, healthy organization would look like?:
  4. The Evolution of OD:Laboratory Training, Likert Scale, Scoring and analysis,
  5. The Evolution of OD:Participative Management, Quality of Work Life, Strategic Change
  6. The Organization Culture:Adjustment to Cultural Norms, Psychological Contracts
  7. The Nature of Planned Change:Lewin’s Change Model, Case Example: British Airways
  8. Action Research Model:Termination of the OD Effort, Phases not Steps
  9. General Model of Planned Change:Entering and Contracting, Magnitude of Change
  10. The Organization Development Practitioner:External and Internal Practitioners
  11. Creating a Climate for Change:The Stabilizer Style, The Analyzer Style
  12. OD Practitioner Skills and Activities:Consultant’s Abilities, Marginality
  13. Professional Values:Professional Ethics, Ethical Dilemmas, Technical Ineptness
  14. Entering and Contracting:Clarifying the Organizational Issue, Selecting an OD Practitioner
  15. Diagnosing Organizations:The Process, The Performance Gap, The Interview Data
  16. Organization as Open Systems:Equifinality, Diagnosing Organizational Systems
  17. Diagnosing Organizations:Outputs, Alignment, Analysis
  18. Diagnosing Groups and Jobs:Design Components, Outputs
  19. Diagnosing Groups and Jobs:Design Components, Fits
  20. Collecting and Analyzing Diagnostic information:Methods for Collecting Data, Observations
  21. Collecting and Analyzing Diagnostic information:Sampling, The Analysis of Data
  22. Designing Interventions:Readiness for Change, Techno-structural Interventions
  23. Leading and Managing Change:Motivating Change, The Life Cycle of Resistance to Change
  24. Leading and managing change:Describing the Core Ideology, Commitment Planning
  25. Evaluating and Institutionalizing Organization Development Interventions:Measurement
  26. Evaluating and Institutionalizing Organization Development Interventions:Research Design
  27. Evaluating and Institutionalizing Organization Development Interventions
  28. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Group Process
  29. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Leadership and Authority, Group Interventions
  30. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Third-Party Interventions
  31. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Team Building, Team Building Process
  32. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Team Management Styles
  33. Organization Process Approaches:Application Stages, Microcosm Groups
  34. Restructuring Organizations:Structural Design, Process-Based Structures
  35. Restructuring Organizations:Downsizing, Application Stages, Reengineering
  36. Employee Involvement:Parallel Structures, Multiple-level committees
  37. Employee Involvement:Quality Circles, Total Quality Management
  38. Work Design:The Engineering Approach, Individual Differences, Vertical Loading
  39. Performance Management:Goal Setting, Management by Objectives, Criticism of MBO
  40. Developing and Assisting Members:Career Stages, Career Planning, Job Pathing
  41. Developing and Assisting Members:Culture and Values, Employee Assistance Programs
  42. Organization and Environment Relationships:Environmental Dimensions, Administrative Responses
  43. Organization Transformation:Sharing the Vision, Three kinds of Interventions
  44. The Behavioral Approach:The Deep Assumptions Approach
  45. Seven Practices of Successful Organizations:Training, Sharing Information