Organization Development (OD) Work: What does it entail?

Author: Justine Chinoperekweyi, Ph.D.
The field of Organization Development (OD) is attracting increased attention as a field and profession essential to sustainable strategic change. As a multi-disciplinary field founded on humanitarian, social and democratic values, the OD field is rich with behavioural, non-behavioural and miscellaneous interventions that can be applied in different situations. What exactly is involved in Organization Development work? This article is informed by my personal experience, discussion with colleagues, literature review, a review of some OD profiles and a review of job descriptions. It’s exciting to note that field is expanding its boundaries in line with the changing operating environment. In view of the tensional forces in the internal and external business environment, the main focus of OD work is institutional improvement. I purposely use the institutional improvement as a call to raise the OD standard to Institutional Development. This Institutional Development concept captures sustainable value creation and ethical practice, hence the creation of ‘high-value’ rather than ‘high-performing’ teams and organizations. This view aligns to Robert Marshak 2010 call “to expand the issues of concern beyond economic viability and quality of work life to include also issues of social justice, sustainability, global health, climate change, and so forth.”
The overarching concern of OD work is to help clients and societies achieve greater innovation of sustainable solutions. This therefore demands appropriately balancing the foundational value system of OD with business orientation and action. In order to achieve broader OD outcomes, OD Practitioners should be able to shape unique approaches to serve the client’s specific situation while attending to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. The OD Work should be guided by a Work Plan that will be generated from the need assessment or the Organization Capacity Assessment. In order to provide an implementation framework that will foster and enhance effectiveness, the Work Plan should be used in conjunction with the Project Management Plan.
Below are some of the deliverables from OD work. These deliverables inform our modus operandi at Centre for Organization Leadership and Development (COLD).
Deliverable 1: Research or Inquiry
This function involves diagnosing enterprise challenges in order to design and facilitate cultural & change interventions. This also involve collecting and analyzing HR data, calculating HR metrics in order to identify and understand key trends. OD Practitioners therefore design and administer surveys, conduct interviews and desk research in order to under the system in relation to the tensional internal and external environmental forces. OD premises that guide this deliverable include Action Inquiry, Diagnostic and Dialogic OD, Social Construction or Plurivocality. The output of this and other deliverables is a well-thought Statement of Work (SOW).
Deliverable 2: Drive Organization Strategic Intent
OD Practitioners drive organization vision and mission and ensures the organization’s activities are anchored in values. This deliverable is strengthened by such premises as Meaning-making systems; Complexity, Self-organizing, and Continuous Change. The interpretivist sciences from the traditional OD premises also informs focus on driving organization’s strategic intent.
Deliverable 3: Organization Design Advisory & Change Management
OD Practitioners are involved in reviewing organization design and provide recommendations for improvement of structures, manpower requirements and individual responsibilities. This also encompasses restructuring the organization in terms of the operating model, organization design, job descriptions, job evaluation, and staffing matrix & budgets. The output at this work is an Organization Structure supported by Job Descriptions and aligned to the overall strategic intent of the organization.
Deliverable 4: HR Strategy Development
OD Practitioners are also involved in advising on best practices and creating culture of high-performance through integrating processes and systems. This involves HR Planning, Recruitment, Rewards & Recognition, and general HR Administration. OD practitioners also support competency modelling through identifying relevant competencies, refining job definitions and delivering communication sessions. The OD work under this deliverable include developing/revising TORs and manuals and appraisals. The output is the design and implementation, roll-out of OD programs for employee satisfaction. The output also includes Staffing Matrix
Deliverable 5: Strategic Planning & Policy Development
This involves leading organization-wide initiatives to drive the organization’s strategy, to develop, engage high performing, diverse talent. OD work also involves providing support for Strategic Planning and Team building. This can be integrated with organization change, that is focusing the direction, services, structure, and culture of the organization. Innovation design is essential for this activity. The output will be Project Management Plan, Refined Statement of Work, and Component-specific Plans.
Deliverable 6: Leadership Development and Learning & Development
Leadership Development is also at the centre of OD work. This involves consulting and coaching work targeted at senior and middle management, professionals and teams. This also encompasses the succession planning and development of the organization. The deliverable also encompasses overseeing the Learning & Development activities of an organization. The Learning & Development aspects involve the design and delivery of workshops, training programs, and coaching/mentorship sessions to facilitate improvement in employee performance. The activities under this work involve identifying key competencies which are aligned to the people’s career development or career path. The output of this work is the construction of an Organization-wide Leadership Development Strategy, Learning & Development Strategy, Coaching/Mentorship Schedules, Training Calendar, and Training Manuals. Knowledge management interventions should be put in place.
Deliverable 7: Business Performance Management
OD work involve Business Performance Management using a number of tools such as Balanced Scorecard. The performance management tools should be broadened to capture both economic and ESG impact values. In line with Participatory Social Inquiry, all stakeholders should understand the activities and performance measures being used in the organization. The OD Practitioner will therefore be involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of the performance dashboard as the output under this deliverable. Performance reports should also be maintained and Monitoring & Evaluation team should be actively engaged under this activity.
Deliverable 8: Training, Consulting & Mentorship
Organizational members should receive regular training; hence this deliverable involves expanding the strategic impact of professionals, managers and units. This involve designing and administering the consulting and mentorship tools that drives business results. As discussed under Deliverable 6, the output of this work includes Training Schedules and Coaching/Mentoring plans.
Deliverable 9: Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion planning are key components of OD work. OD Practitioners champion inclusivity in organizations and society. The practitioner conducts policy and processes review for organisations on key D&I areas within the business from recruitment, promotion, leadership development and organisational culture. Also responsible for educating, leading, and coaching the organization on how to leverage diversity and inclusion as a business advantage. The OD Practitioner Partners with Talent Acquisition to educate hiring managers and helps to increase understanding of diversity as a business imperative. The output of this work includes Diversity & Inclusion Plans
Deliverable 10: Project Management Planning
This involves regularly assessing the implementation progress in order enhance performance. In coordination with M&E team, the OD Practitioner critically assess the organization’s reports and champion any modifications or improvements. The output of this work is a Project Management Plan. The plan should track and measure performance towards desired outcomes.
Deliverable 11: Knowledge Management
This involves the organization’s library of consulting work and all other documents from Deliverables 1-9. OD Practitioners coordinate knowledge-based partnerships and manage strategic knowledge management activities, projects and initiatives. This also encompasses leading in the setting up of communities of practice, organization’s knowledge management repository, and defining knowledge management best practices. Planning, designing, implementing and managing a variety of research areas (quantitative and qualitative) that include, business environment analysis, organizational research, service quality audit and customer insight. This deliverable also includes supporting corporate excellence initiatives by ensuring stakeholder research (including customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopper programs and employee satisfaction studies) are in line with industry standards and best practices. The output is a knowledge management library and organization’s portal containing all the organization’s data.
The deliverables explained above confirms the multi-disciplinary nature of OD work and the need for inquiry and engagement at each stage of the work. There are numerous interventions and tools that support OD work and upcoming articles will elaborate on these OD tools, interventions, and activities. In view of the deliverables explained in this article, though not exhaustive, the OD field should be touted as a strategic and operational imperative for driving organizational effectiveness and broader societal goals.
Bushe, G. R., & Marshak, R. J. (2009). Revisioning organization development: Diagnostic and dialogic premises and patterns of practice. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 45(3): 348-368.
Mashark, R. J. (2010). OD Morphogenesis: The Emerging Dialogic Platform of Premises. Practising Social Change. Pp. 4-9.

About the Author
Dr. Justine Chinoperekweyi is an OD Scholar-Practitioner, Director at Centre for Organization Leadership and Development (COLD), President of Organization Leadership and Development Network (OLDN), and Editor-in-Chief of Organization Leadership and Development Quarterly (OLDQ). Justine is actively involved in OD Education globally.

Leave a Comment