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What is Organizational Development

Organizational Development

Training and development is an important aspect of human resource development. However the traditional methods and approach of T&D has its own limitations in that the focus is on individual development and behavior modification.

This has seldom produced organizational development and hence in 1960’s an integrated approach called the ‘OD’ or organizational development was developed.

Meaning and definition of organizational development (o.d.)

“A process used to enhance both the effectiveness of an organization and the well being of its members through planned interventions.”

OD is the systematic application of behavioral science knowledge for the purpose of improving productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and overall health of the total organization.

The applied interventions attempt to modify the beliefs, assumptions, values, attitudes and standards of both the individuals and groups thereby transforming the organizational culture for the betterment of system as a whole.


Organizational development and od interventions



  1. HUMANISM: The focus is on the employees, their attitude and inter-personal relationships. An organization is a network of people whose emotions, outlook and cohesiveness are more important than monetary and other physical aspects because it is they who take the organization to the next higher level.  This is made possible by open communication, free and frank discussions of problems with employees by the managers, inter-personal trust and above all, sense of belongingness, comradeship and team spirit.
  2. PROBLEM-SOLVING NATURE: The purpose of an OD intervention is to solve a problem. The employees themselves are given the opportunity to identify the problem by Survey Feedback and find a suitable solution through analysis. This is a cyclic process and also called as “Action Research”.
  3. SYSTEMS APPROACH: OD is concerned with not the structure or persons per se, but with the interplay of structure and persons.
  4. LEARNING THROUGH PARTICIPATION: The participants of the learning process are none other than the employees. They unlearn old things and learn new things by identifying, analyzing and finding the right solution to the bottlenecks.
  5. TOP MANAGEMENT SUPPORT AND INVOLVEMENT: OD intervention is successful only when top management involvement is full-fledged and ensures participation from all levels of managers and all departments in such an exercise.
  6. MULTIPLE INTERVENTIONS: Intervention takes place at various levels, individual as well as group and the purpose is molding desirable work culture and leadership styles suitable for the organization.
  7. ROLE OF CONSULTANT: Employing an external consultant will be more appropriate as he is less susceptible to influences and more objective. He acts as the change agent facilitating co-ordination and stimulation.
  8. CONTINGENCY PLANS: Alternate plans are also devised if in case the original plan fails; the idea is one that of trial and error, hence the need for contingency plans and approach to OD problem.



Rensis Likert’s 4 system OD framework aims at moving towards truly participative system. Care and caution must be adhered to steer the system gradually from where the organization now works.

He also introduced diagnostic analysis to find what causes the current problem. His three part diagnostic analysis includes:

A. OUTPUT CAUSES: Low productivity, absenteeism, declining profit

B. INTERVENING CAUSES: Organization structure, control, policy and leadership

C. ROOT CAUSES: Attitude, motivation level, empowerment and organization culture


Tips for Organization Development

tips for organizational development


“The OD paradigm values human and organizational growth, collaborative and participative processes and a spirit of enquiry.” Brown and Covey have made some attempts to identify OD values from the following:

Norms and Values:

  • Respect for people: People are the most important of all resources. So giving due respect and importance to people induces the creativity and innovation in them.
  • Trust and Support: Trust, openness and supportive climate improve organization culture and empowerment.

Power Equalization: This emphasizes hierarchical authority, control and centralization.

Confrontation: Do not hide problem under the carpet; instead face them squarely how-ever unpleasant they may be.

Participation: Involving people in decision-making will resolve problem situations in a jiffy




On Individuals:

1. Employees have much to offer

2. They indeed look for an opportunity to contribute

3. They are duty bound, mature and want growth

high performance team


On Groups:

1. Groups have powerful influence on the individuals

2. Groups and teams are inevitable to an organization’s success

3. Skill are to be developed to play complex roles in groups


On Organization

1. Complex structure, excessive control, rules and regulations mar the development of an organization

2. Organization can only gain from properly channeled conflicts

3. Goal congruence is possible between individual and organizational goals.


Also See: Seven Pitfalls to Avoid During Organizational Transformation