What is “OD”?

I have had numerous people ask me what “OD” or Organizational Development is. Those of us in the field know what we are talking about but to people on the outside, the concept is quite fuzzy and confusing.  Here is my own interpretation!  I prefer to use the phrase “Strategic Organizational Management” [SOM] when describing my work to others who are not familiar with this work/discipline. Imagine that SOM is a stool supported by four important legs. My colleagues and I partner with organizations to strengthen each of these legs by developing/implementing strategies/actions associated with each leg:

  • Strategic Positioning: Vision/Mission Development, Strategic Planning
  • Sustainability: Culture, Economic, i.e., Asset Management, Environmental and Social
  • Organizational Structure: Work flow Analysis, Work Process Improvement
  • Talent Management: Leadership Development, Training, Work Place Dynamics, Coaching

Talent Management [TM]  is often associated with  Human Resources [HR]. In my opinion, there is a close yet different relationship between HR and SOM with regards to TM.    From my perspective, the TM focus within HR is with succession planning, benefits administration, recruitment/retention and performance based coaching.  SOM, on the other hand, directly links TM to the organization’s vision/mission through team/work group development, internal capacity building ,i.e, leadership development, leadership coaching and training which is one foundational piece of its TM work.

Organizations’ desire to truly become a “learning organization”, i.e., one that is “continually expanding its capacity to create its future [Senge, 1990]”, requires  four healthy legs and Strategic Organizational Management is the vehicle for supporting organizations pursuing this ideal.