Great article OD in a recession
OD is not just a strategy for recession beating but a great methodology for growth in ‘normal’ times too.
It is interesting that in the UK we have adopted elements of OD tools without the overall strategy of OD. For example 360 reviews, training, talent management, management development etc. OD provides the framework for all of these strategies with which to align to the business strategy being fully supported.
Looking at the history of OD, Bennis in his early work “organizational Development: nature, origins & prospects” defines OD as:
“a response to change, a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values and structure of organizations so that they can better adapt to new technologies, markets and challenges”
This is just as true today as it was in 1969!
Some time ago I undertook a survey called “Developing the Developers” and one of the significant findings of this was the fact that the missing element in the majority of interventions was that of appropriate diagnosis. This is also true in organisational development at a holistic level. For any OD strategy to be effective we need to have a base of understanding of “where are we now”, we need to undertake a review of our business that can act as a benchmark measure. This will also enable evaluation of policy and strategy to be more effective.
In your piece you say “Research consistently shows that around two-thirds of all planned change programmes fail to deliver the intended outcomes. It’s far from confidence-building.”
While at Business Link we did some similar work and this was reflected in a report from Warwick university as to why change or business development fails. The findings were very simple:
* Not linked to organisational objectives
* No overall strategy for corporate development
* Corporate culture not taken into account
* Purchasers not clear about what they are buying
* Suppliers finding solutions to problems they can solve
* Lack of evaluation
* Time pressures on managers
* Change process not managed
When these things are done research has shown over 80% of change programmes exceed expectations (in the SME sector up to 500 employees).
For OD to work HR practitioners need to start addressing areas outside their ‘usual’ remit. OD is more than people and attitudes, it is about performance using resources. those resources include Finance and Operations.
Organisations that start with a holistic business review and undertake development from the diagnostic and implement change management processes as part of the process usually succeed – but with HR often being off the ‘top team’ this can make things very difficult.
The comment at the end of the article “Rodgers says it’s crucial it is able to command respect from other departments: “If HR/OD is associated solely with ‘the soft side of change’, it is unlikely to be able to bring its influence to bear on the so-called ‘hard’ aspects of the change agenda.”” is so true, however the way to avoid this is not to look at OD as the soft side but an integrated solution, this for many in HR, OD & L&D means developing more commercial skills.
Is this the start of real OD in the UK? certainly the drivers are here…