The 60 Year Debate: What is OD? The field started with a passionate value base and a different set of perspectives to solve problems and improve conditions of the time. It has grown and evolved to address different problems and conditions, expand the theory and method base and continue as an eclectic, inter- disciplinary field or practice of change In the process, it has become almost everything done in organization change and consequently come to mean nothing or a confusing amalgamation
The 60 Year Debate: What is OD? Different views of what OD is are partly caused by when people entered the field (stage of development), what disciplinary door they entered through(business, psychology, social justice, social science, quality/lean/six sigma) how they’ve been indoctrinated/mentored (see above), how they were educated or trained (psychology, management or education program; discipline-based certificate) and what they’ve been able to practice
The 60 Year Debate: What is OD? Defining the field is much like the blind men and the elephant in which each sees part of the whole and describes it differently. This is the same problem we deal with all the time in organizations who operate with silo thinking.
The 60 Year Debate: What is OD? Along the way, many early OD ideas and practices have become more mainstream: Participation Team building Coaching leaders Feedback processes Developing potential Retreats for planning, problem-solving & development
A Short History of OD: Intellectual Roots early leadership work that brought legitimacy to participative and democratic methods (Lewin and Lippitt, 1938; Follett, 1941; Likert, 1961; Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 1973) early human relations work that highlighted the primacy of social factors, attitudes, and feelings in organization behavior, influencing productivity and morale (Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1939; Mayo, 1945; Homans, 1950) early work on group dynamics and laboratory training bringing attention to group behavior, interpersonal relations, and self-awareness (Cartwright and Zander, 1954; Bennis and Shepard, 1956; Bradford, Gibb, and Benne, 1964; Schein and Bennis; 1965)
A Short History of OD: Intellectual Roots changing views of the person, motivation, and interpersonal communication (Maslow, 1954; Rogers, 1961; Argyris, 1965; McGregor, 1960) early use of data and diagnosis to guide change including survey research methods and action research (Mann, Lippitt, Lewin, Nadler) early work on environments, structures, systems and socio-technical principles helping to bring design and work process into the picture (Trist and Bamforth, 1951; Burns and Stalker, 1961; Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967; Katz and Kahn, 1966).
A Short History of OD: Environmental Roots A social and organization change movement (late 40’s and early 50’s) A counterforce to human and organization conditions of the time An application-oriented science and practice (e.g.,Lewin’s work on using group process knowledge to address contemporary issues)
A Short History of OD: Subsequent Developments of the Field (60s-90s) Strategy and Strategic Management (Raia, Lawler, Porter, Greiner, Beer, Worley, Hitchin &Ross) Organization Design (Hanna, Galbraith, Lawler, Cummings, Mohrman, Nadler, Lawrence & Lorsch, Pasmore, Trist, Emery, Cherns) Power, Politics and Economics (Greiner & Schein, Marguiles, Pfeffer, Walton, Block) “Whole” Systems and Large Group Methods (Beckhard, Dannemiller, Weisbord, Axelrod, Owen, Bunker & Alban) Appreciative & positive science perspectives & methods (Cooperider, Bushe, Watkins, Yeager, Sorenson)
The 60 Year Debate: What is OD? Many have been caught up in dialogue and debate (for a very long time!) over: What it is? What does it include? Is it a part of some larger discipline or field? Has it lost it’s roots (or is it stuck in it’s roots)? Is it relevant (anymore)? How does it fit in today’s complex, connected, global, fast-changing world? Is it “dead”? Is there a “new OD”
The 60 Year Debate: What is OD? I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am getting tired of the debate after nearly 40 years, while the world, organizations and people need help, change and effectiveness to tackle ever larger issues & opportunities Isn’t it time to make some decisions, stand up, belong to something that counts and focus on making a difference?
What is OD? Who you are and what you do will carry more weight than what you call it! So, define your field, pull a chair up to the table, believe in something, advocate for what makes a difference and stop complaining, debating and operating marginally or tentatively
What is OD? I hope some will continue the dialogue, research and inquiry of the field to clarify, evaluate and deepen understanding. That is also a value of the field. But it no longer needs to be in the foreground (figure) and needs to become background (ground), not what the world sees and hears about OD.
What is OD? It’s a messy intention (change in human systems) and a messy field. It will never be neat & clean There will always be new (& old) polarities to deal with:
Common Polarities Engineering & human system needs Control & autonomy Hierarchy & inclusion Diversity & privilege Problem-based and appreciative mindsets OD values and economics Deep change and speed- ” good, fast & cheap ” Globalization and ethno-centricity of cultures Short-term needs & sustainability
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! Put a stake in the ground! Develop knowledge and skills for masterful practice Apply throughout society, across human levels and within all types of organizations Teach/share with leaders, managers & organization members for sustainability Write, talk, share within the field & among colleagues to advance the theory & practice
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What is OD? First, the “O” is about organizations (systems) of all kinds; the units throughout society that are human organizations existing to accomplish some purpose Second, the “D” is about change & improvement; growing towards something, getting better at one’s mission, improving how work gets done & people live their lives
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What is OD? a process of planned & emergent intervention(s) utilizing behavioral and organization science principles to change a system and improve its effectiveness, conducted in accordance with values of humanism, participation, choice and development, so that the organization and its members learn and develop adapted from Jamieson & Worley (2008)
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What is OD? A series of actions (interventions) in a planned process Using theory & methods from behavioral sciences (e.g., economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, social psychology) and organization sciences (e.g., organization theory, organization design, systems theory, management theory)
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What is OD? To understand systems & behavior; and to take action for change, effectiveness and improvement Conducted in accordance with certain values: humanism participation choice development
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What is OD? So that the organization & its members learn & grow (develop capacity & their potential)
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What is OD? A mindset (way of seeing the organization world) A set of value-based perspectives A philosophy of organizing, managing and changing An integration, across disciplines, of theories, concepts and methods, for understanding & changing human systems A field of study & practice
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What are OD Perspectives? An open, socio-technical, human systems perspective on organizing & organizations A cyclical, participative, action research orientation to inquiry, diagnosis & change An inclusive perspective on planning, problem- solving & change A humanistic perspective on relationships, managing & ethics A developmental perspective on individual & collective improvements
Balancing planning with implementation, data with needs, and commitment with action
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What is OD? Defined by how we view the world, organizations, people & change Defined by what we focus on Defined by how we take action Defined by central guiding concepts-in-use Defined by the values shaping our behavior, methods & desired outcomes Defined by the learning and transfer orientation
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! What is OD? OD specifically brings into focus: The systems context; both social & technical Inter-relationships and dependencies that affect outcomes Human dynamics that contribute to outcomes Relationships between human levels Understanding & changing human systems Inquiry/data needs Stakeholders: who’s involved and affected
Suppose We Took OD Seriously! Minimum Requirements A conceptual framework to deal with the “O” Model, theory, way to understand organizations & dynamics A conceptual framework to deal with the “D” Model, theory, way to understand & facilitate learning & change
Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it’s getting Hanna
Learning & Change Pick your favorite learning theory(ies) to guide methods and change design Kolb, Dewey, Mezirow, Raelin, Argyris & Schon, Polanyi, Bandura, Marquardt, Marsick Pick your favorite change model to guide planning & action-taking Kotter, Lewin, Bridges, Ackerman- Anderson, Burke-Litwin, Beer, Nevis, Hanna
To Manage Change Effectively: How OD Informs Consider all aspects of the relevant systems; what is affected, needs to change or is interdependent Consider the stakeholders (people involved); what is there status, preparation, capability, etc. Consider the data needs; what don’t you know & do you need to better understand Consider the values to guide processes, methods & outcomes Design the processes for content and psycho- social effectiveness
Case Situation “Turnover has been really high. It hasn’t really bothered me until two of my key people who have a lot of corporate knowledge (and who are almost irreplaceable) have been sending messages that they are looking elsewhere. We’ve done wage and salary surveys and found that compensation is right in line with the market. We collected exit interview information and nothing unusual is popping up on the screen. When I’ve inquired about morale and working conditions, most people clam up and don’t have anything to say. I did an attitude survey about a year ago and got only a 10% response.”
What are some different perspectives (lenses) that could be used to explain what’s going on here? Issues, causes, solutions? How might you use OD thinking to approach this situation and help the manager & employees of this department?
What Makes OD, OD? the adoption of certain values (humanism, participation, choice and development) guiding consultant behavior, intervention methods, process design and desired outcomes using the application of knowledge and methods from the behavioral & organizational sciences to the effectiveness of organization systems producing a multi-disciplinary set of interventions and targets for change working from an open, multi-level, socio-technical, human systems perspective including ‘wholeness’ and interdependent dynamics in diagnosis and change
What Makes OD, OD? using the client-consultant relationship as a tool of change and learning, putting more emphasis on its management than in other approaches and requiring the use of “self” as an instrument the nature of the consultative relationship (respective roles, who’s in charge, process/content balance, client involvement, power dynamics, boundaries) and emphasis on critical behaviors including trust, openness, honesty, authenticity, collaboration and inquiry the inclusion of increased organization capacity and individual development in the desired outcomes
Understanding Use of Self Our professional effectiveness is dependent on how we think & act … our conceptual ability and skill sets Ultimately, in service/helping roles, our use of self influences outcomes OD has long stressed the importance of use of self, leading to an emphasis on personal growth & development in the service of helping others
Understanding Use of Self Use of Self is… The Use of Self is the conscious use of one’s whole being in the intentional execution of one’s role for effectiveness in a present situation. Being an instrument for sensing (taking in data), meaning-making (understanding) and action-taking (doing something) in human system settings in service of helping
What Makes OD, OD? including a planned and designed process that is comprised of a series of interventions that are client-centric (based on client characteristics, capabilities & readiness), on-going, data-driven, cyclical and value-based the active management of deviations and re- design of processes around an intended path (dealing with inertia, resistance and support; emerging issues; environmental shifts, etc.) creating a customized process leaving little room for pre- packaged programs (“If you know step two, it’s probably not OD”)
When in Doubt, Gallop! French Calvary Ready, Fire, Aim Unknown
The Path to Masterful Practice Blend of: Use of Self (see, know & do) Consultative Relationship (e.g., influence- based, equal partners, collaboration, inquiry) Knowledge in Behavioral & Organizational Sciences (content, process & sense- making) Execution Skills (e.g., communication, diagnosis, design, facilitation, learning)
“ In school they told me practice makes perfect, then they told me nobody ’ s perfect, so I stopped practicing ” -Steven Wright “ In school they told me practice makes perfect, then they told me nobody ’ s perfect, so I stopped practicing ” -Steven Wright “ In school they told me practice makes perfect, then they told me nobody ’ s perfect, so I stopped practicing ” -Steven Wright “ In school they told me practice makes perfect, then they told me nobody ’ s perfect, so I stopped practicing ” -Steven Wright “ In school they told me practice makes perfect, then they told me nobody ’ s perfect, so I stopped practicing ” -Steven Wright The Path to Masterful Practice “In school they told me practice makes perfect, then they told me nobody’s perfect, so I stopped practicing” Steven Wright
The Path to Masterful Practice change agents can only see what they have prepared themselves to see, only understand what they have knowledge or experience to make sense of and only do what they have developed themselves to do Jamieson
The Path to Masterful Practice Can start from anywhere & bring an OD perspective to add value HR, training, learning & development, performance consulting, talent management-all pieces focusing on the same organization system puzzle … creating high performance & managing change We need performance & change to survive or prosper; each area of practice contributes, but is not enough! Wherever your role starts, OD can help enlarge your perspective … to enhance what you are able to see, understand and do
Our “Hippocratic Oath” Do No Harm Add Value…Everyday
The 60 Year Debate: What is OD? What is it? See slides 4-9; 16-39 What does it include? Any work with those characteristics Is it a part of some larger discipline or field? Its’ perspective is usually larger and draws from many other fields Has it lost it’s roots (or is it stuck in it’s roots)? Depends on how you practice; the roots are the anchor, but field evolved beyond roots a long time ago
The 60 Year Debate: What is OD? Is it relevant (anymore)? Highly; most effective principles for sustainable change How does it fit in today’s complex, connected, global, fast-changing world? more complexity today leading to operating with less certainty and data, but need many of same lenses and methods; some methods need to change with new technology, speed and scale Is it “dead”? I don’t think so; narrow, fragmented conceptions are, but founder’s intentions and field developments more complete & useful
Selected References Jamieson, D & Worley, C. (2008). “The Practice of OD”. In Cummings, T. The Handbook of Organization Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Jamieson, D. (2006). “What Makes OD Different (and Better) Than Other Approaches to Change” in The Wisdom of ASTD-LA 2006. LA: ASTD-LA Jamieson, D. (2006). “Strategic Human Resource Thinking” in Preziosi, R. The 2007 Pfieffer Annual: Human Resource Management. San Francisco: Pfieffer/Jossey-Bass Schon, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York: Basic Books.