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The new business environment is revolutionary. Gone are the days of planned change, incremental change, continuous improvement, and change management. Old ways of organizing and doing business have been made irrelevant because the demands of an ever competitive and changing environment are increasing the need for knowledge about how to lead organization change effectively (Beer & Nohria, 2000).

hile there are many definitions of Organization Development (OD) floating around today, here is a consolidated definition from past and contemporary leaders of the field:

Organization Development (OD) is whole-system transformation and development using a values-based collaborative process. It focuses on applying positive behavioral science wisdom to perfecting, reinforcing, and measuring such organizational features as:

• Extraordinary performance
• Building of executive teams
• Aligned leadership
• Relevant strategies
• Synergistic and functional organization design
• Clear organizational structure/chart including roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities
• Cost-effective business processes
• Passionate and great human cultures
• Changed behavior and mental sets
• Globalization
• Quickened learning environments
• Or whatever the executive team believes must be focused on to achieve desired results.

In essence, OD leads people to collectively learn and change to produce desired outcomes.
In order to understand how OD works we would like to introduce you to the major components of the core framework of OD.

1. Working with Whole Systems:
A systems perspective requires defining a boundary, which separates the system into an internal set of interdependent parts and an environment (the next larger system) with which it needs to interact (import/export energy). Thus, a system can be an entire enterprise, a specific unit, or even an individual and always includes internal and external customers/clients. When we apply the term “wholeness” to a system, we’re referring to the regularly interdependent parts forming an effective and aligned whole, interacting according to the influence of related forces. For a system to work smoothly, everyone who is affected by the organization needs to be positively engaged. A balance of influence from primary stakeholders such as owners, employees and customers is desired.

2. A Unique Value-Based Process:
Values are enduring and positive beliefs on which the ideal or transformed state attributes its existence. Values have always been an OD signature. Additionally, the soul of OD is the process by which the desired state is achieved.

“Process: A progressive series of procedures and functions performed over a period of time bringing about a result. For OD purposes, the thoughts, feelings and interactions of those participating in the change process are of particular significance. For OD changing processes often involves converting habitual patterns of thought, feeling, behavior (action) and interaction to more desirable states.”

3. Transformational vs. Developmental:
'Transformation' is a fundamental paradigm shift from one state of being to a new state. Transformation requires a shift to new behaviors and mindsets to sustain future change. It is deep-rooted or second order change. 'Developmental' is first order change or improvement of an existing state. Ideally, conscious transformation occurs when a system requires it. Ongoing development then keeps the system moving forward. In development, core processes and domains are continually adapted through a simple continuous change cycle such as the classic Scan, Plan, Act, and Re-act model.

4.Strength-Focused Change:
Instead of having an obsessive pre-occupation with root causality of problems and negativity, contemporary OD is leaning more and more toward strength-focused change. Positive change is driven by an appreciative or value-added approach where inquisition, hope, innovation, and engagement prevail.

5. A Research-Based Philosophy:
OD has a traditional foundation in an applied behavioral knowledge of business, technology, sociology, anthropology, positive psychology, adult education, economics, and organizational behavior. The situation itself, and the beliefs of the consultant, are integrated with one goal in mind - achieving success for the organization and the customer.

Tried and true relevant knowledge, skills and ways of being, especially about change are transferred to the system. In addition, enterprise learning and intelligence are discovered, reinforced, and documented throughout the effort.


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