"OD is a planned process of developing an organization to be more effective in accomplishing its desired goals."

Human Resources Management & Development Handbook

Beckhard (1) defines Organization Development (OD) as "an effort, planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization's processes, using behavioral-science knowledge." In essence, OD is a planned system of change.

  • Planned. OD takes a long-range approach to improving organizational performance and efficiency. It avoids the (usual) "quick-fix".
  • Organization-wide. OD focuses on the total system.
  • Managed from the top. To be effective, OD must have the support of top-management. They have to model it, not just espouse it. The OD process also needs the buy-in and ownership of workers throughout the organization.
  • Increase organization effectiveness and health. OD is tied to the bottom-line. Its goal is to improve the organization, to make it more efficient and more competitive by aligning the organization's systems with its people.
  • Planned interventions. After proper preparation, OD uses activities called interventions to make systemwide, permanent changes in the organization.
  • Using behavioral-science knowledge. OD is a discipline that combines research and experience to understanding people, business systems, and their interactions.

For more on OD practices and competencies,visit the National OD Network.

For an article written by OD expert Matt Minahan about the differences between HR and OD,click here (article: HR and OD, Do We Want the lady or the Tiger?)

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