What is OD? Defining the practice and profession of Organisational Development

There was a fascinating discussion during the first meeting of the St Albans AMED group about what connected us as OD practitioners. For one thing, we mostly didn't call ourselves OD practitioners, but felt we might be thought of in that way from time to time.

When we discussed what OD was, I certainly recognised some of the practices.

It was said:

When organisations have complex, intangible problems that are difficult to articulate, those problems belong to OD.

You are in OD if:
• You find your intervention goes beyond a simple training course and starts to spread elsewhere in the organisation
• You are an internal HR consultant and get yourself promoted to deal with anything that takes an organisational approach
• You are in an internal HR team that goes beyond personnel and into strategy

OD is:
• An art, in which skilled practitioners are facilitators to the whole organisation
• A spurious term invented by academics to sell books
• Connecting initiatives to the organisational strategy

OD practitioners:
• Help organisations to adapt to their changing environment and mitigate the effects of those changes
• Help task-focused people to see the bigger picture and make decisions on how better to relate to their environment
• Are those who are hired by the client to be blamed when things don’t work out, allowing clients to step away from problems

You might also be practising OD if you:
• Use diagnostic or analytic tools as a lead-in to further work
• Are unsure who to talk to next in the organisation, but you suspect it isn’t your immediate client
• Notice that your client organisation is distinctive and you have to do something different here

If you offer an intangible service that could be called OD, the customer may still fix on something tangible even if it’s not the most important part of the offer.

Talking about OD is distinctive from doing OD.

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Comment by David F McAra on September 14, 2009 at 0:37
Anyone know The Organization Development Institute? Can appear a little dated but it's an interesting body.

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