What Is Organization Development?

Put simply, organization development (OD) is about helping people in organizations move from an undesirable condition to an improved, healthy and more functional state of being. It is a cooperative effort between leaders, groups, individual members and an OD practitioner who work together to improve the humanistic health and effectiveness of the organization. 

Interventions based in Action Research processes (Kurt Lewin, 1944) provide approaches to address organizational issues that promote clients' ownership of its outcomes. Among a number of definitions of OD, Richard Beckhard offers a classic: 

Organization development is an effort that is: (1) planned, (2) organization-wide, and (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health, through (5) planned interventions in the organization’s processes using behavioral science knowledge (Beckhard, 1969).   What follows are typical interventions in an Action Research process. 

Begin with:

The client's needs analysis

  • Research and data collection

  • Analyze data and provide feedback

  • Gauge the impact of feedback for next steps


Continue with:

Planning and implementing

  • Collaborate with client to plan intervention(s)

  • Implement plan and employ Action Research technologies

End with: 

Evaluation and exit

  • Measure progress

  • Advise on next steps and make plans for accountability

  • Celebrate success 

Every engagement is unique. We customize each intervention to help you move through the process and resolve issues within and among all levels of the system.

Call Karen to talk about ways your organization may benefit from an OD engagement.