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OD Overview

Our topic of discussion is the next level of organizational development (OD). As we explore the OD field, I want to share my experiences and insights from over 20 years of working in this area. Throughout my career, I've had the privilege of collaborating with business leaders in Malaysia and abroad, using OD practices to drive positive change. 

Today we will cover:

Section 1 - Foundations

- Background

- Definition of OD 

- HR as a People Leader

- The Scope of HR Development  

- Structure of HR Development

Section 2 - OD Practitioners

- History of OD

- OD Management Models

- Skills, Knowledge, and Roles 

Section 3 - Actions

- Application of OD Models

- Application Experience

- Implementing OD Initiatives

- Benefits to HR


Section 1 Background

I have a diverse career spanning various organizations - I have focused on both HR Development & OD, and HR Operations. 

At Western Digital, Mydin, and Pfizer, my role was Training & Development. I moved on to do OD work at Carsem, PayPal, First Solar and Berjaya as Senior Manager for Malaysia and Asia Pacific. As for Dexon, Huacomm and Forest City, I was Head of HR Operations.

Each step has taught me valuable lessons and shaped my perspective on the importance of OD. My experiences highlight the significance of HR's involvement in OD. By integrating OD practices, HR professionals can become effective business leaders, driving positive change.

Along the way, we'll find answers to some key questions:

- How can HR move beyond people leader to business leader?

- What is the scope of organizational development (OD)?

- What are the four OD organizational structures?

- What are key OD models?

- Why is OD considered the business side of HR?

Let's first understand what organizational development (OD) is all about.

Section 2 Definition and Scope

Now, let's focus on the definition of OD. According to the Association for Talent Development, OD is an effort to improve organizational effectiveness by aligning strategy, structure, people, rewards, metrics, and processes. It draws from disciplines like psychology, culture, innovation, social sciences, adult education, HR management, change management, organizational behavior, and research. In essence, OD is an interdisciplinary, science-based field encompassing diverse knowledge and expertise. 

Let's explore OD's relationship with contributing disciplines:

Psychology plays a crucial role by providing insights into individual and group behavior through psychological principles and theories. This allows assessment of employee attitudes, motivation, and satisfaction, informing the design of interventions that enhance employee well-being, engagement, and productivity.

Culture significantly impacts organizations. OD recognizes this by shaping and transforming organizational culture. OD interventions align values and goals, fostering collaboration, innovation, and satisfaction.

Innovation is essential for growth and success. OD encourages a culture of creativity and continuous improvement, enabling organizations to adapt to changing demands through interventions that support innovation, risk-taking, and new ideas.

Social sciences provide insights into group dynamics, organizational structures, and communication patterns. Understanding social dynamics allows the identification of barriers to teamwork and strategies to enhance collaboration and communication.

Adult education recognizes continuous learning is vital for individuals and organizations. Applying adult education principles allows the creation of training programs, leadership development, and knowledge-sharing platforms that provide development opportunities and enhance engagement and effectiveness. 

HR management works hand-in-hand with OD by integrating OD principles into HR practices, creating a cohesive, people-centric approach to drive success. OD aligns HR strategies like talent management, performance systems, and employee development with organizational goals.

Change management provides frameworks, tools, and methodologies to manage organizational change. It helps anticipate, respond to, and facilitate smooth transitions during times of transformation by minimizing resistance.

Organizational behaviour examines interactions within organizations. OD leverages these insights into employee motivations, dynamics, and leadership styles to design interventions that improve organizational behaviour and performance.

Research design and analysis are integral to OD, providing a systematic approach to gathering and interpreting data. OD interventions are data-driven, employing research to assess needs, diagnose problems, and evaluate impact by analyzing data. This enables informed decisions and continuous improvement.

In summary, OD encompasses diverse disciplines - psychology, culture, innovation, social sciences, adult education, HR management, change management, organizational behaviour, and research design and analysis. This multidisciplinary approach allows for addressing complex challenges, fostering continuous improvement and growth, and driving positive organizational change.

That concludes our session today. Next time we will discuss HR as a people leader. Thank you for joining our exploration of the OD journey.

 Section 3 HR as a Business Leader

Now, let's shift our focus to OD's role in elevating HR to become business leaders. HR leaders often express a desire to be respected as business leaders in management meetings. So, how can HR achieve this?

One approach is expanding involvement beyond traditional talent focus to think more strategically - bridging the gap between business and people to drive growth. Let's examine this closer. 

The business side involves strategy, finance, productivity, innovation, and customers. The people side involves engagement, performance, capabilities, and culture - primarily managed by HR.

However, HR leaders are often seen as people rather than business leaders. This perception stems from the traditional division of responsibilities, where HR focuses on the people side - recruiting, training, and rewarding talent. While crucial, HR's impact is often indirect, leading to a lack of recognition as business leaders.

In Dave Ulrich's model, HR operates as HR Strategists and People Leaders, concentrating on succession planning, people management, and talent strategy - focusing on the human side rather than business operations.

So how can HR become true Business Leaders? One way is through organizational development (OD) interventions. OD provides opportunities to work directly with business units and contribute to their success. Let's explore what OD entails.

OD involves assisting with corporate strategy, improving business processes, fostering innovation, enhancing customer service, and using active learning to address challenges. By engaging in these practices, HR becomes directly involved in business units - providing solutions to enhance departmental and organizational performance. 

In my experience, I have been involved in OD projects like facilitating strategy sessions, leading process improvements, and using active learning to solve problems in quality assurance and marketing.

Integrating OD allows HR to play a more active role in operations - gaining a better understanding of other leaders' challenges and opportunities to collaborate effectively, provide strategic support, and contribute to business outcomes. This elevates HR from supporter to true partner in driving success.

In Ulrich's model, adopting an "Outside-In" perspective prioritizing customers, and becoming strategy experts marks the progression from People Leader to genuine Business Leader for HR.

Let's pause to reflect. How do you see HR's role? Can HR become strong business leaders? What steps can HR take to gain equal credibility in management meetings?

Section 4 Structure

Now, let's delve into the structure of organizational development. It showcases capabilities in holistically enhancing organizational performance.

Let's explore different HR Development models and structures:

Model 1 has an independent HR Development function reporting to the COO, while HR Operations reports to the CEO. I've seen this model applied in two organizations, positioning OD or HR Development under the COO - demonstrating a commitment to effectiveness and development by allowing dedicated focus on strategic initiatives like transformation, process improvements, cultural change, and strategy management. However, HR Development needs to work closely with HR Operations for talent insights, highlighting the importance of connecting to operational aspects.

Model 2 positions HR Development and HR Operations as equal partners both reporting to an HR VP. This recognizes their equal importance and aims to foster collaboration and alignment between the functions to leverage their unique strengths in driving HR effectiveness. HR Development focuses on long-term initiatives like learning, career development, talent management, and OD that are essential for building workforce skills and capabilities to support organizational success. I've seen one organization follow this model, with HR Development and Operations under the VP of HR - highlighting the strategic value of HR Development and its connection to the HR Department, with resources allocated to allow more OD initiatives.

Model 3 integrates HR Development within HR Operations - the most commonly used model in Malaysia. This aims to ensure the alignment of HR Development activities with operational needs. By integrating the two, the focus is on integrating learning programs with day-to-day HR, ensuring development is seen as an integral part of the overall HR strategy rather than an isolated function. However, this model has limitations - prioritizing daily operations over long-term initiatives can hinder talent development, and the integration may overly focus on training while neglecting culture, strategy, and process improvements. Biases towards operations can overshadow the strategic value of HR Development. To overcome these limitations, it's important to allocate resources, set clear objectives, and foster a culture valuing long-term effectiveness and balanced, integrated HR strategies aligned to long-term goals. 

Model 4 takes a hybrid approach, integrating OD initiatives into specific HR department functions - spreading OD activities across departments like recruitment, employee relations, payroll, performance, and learning. For instance, the performance management department may handle strategic planning and human performance consulting, while the training department facilitates meetings and process improvements. This creates an integrated HR ecosystem enabling tailored development initiatives, engagement, and agility.

In summary, we discussed four HR Development models, their characteristics, and comparative advantages. Some experts advocate for a centralized Model 1 to ensure focused, specialized OD with dedicated strategic resources. Model 2 emphasizes joint HR VP oversight of Development and Operations for effectiveness. Model 3 promotes integrated, holistic talent development. Model 4 allows tailored OD aligned to each department's needs, enhancing HR performance.

Which model best fits your organization? Are you implementing any of these models, and if so, what has been the impact on your HR Development efforts?

That concludes our discussion on HR Development structures. In the next sections, we will delve into the functional names and job titles associated with HR Development and OD.

Section 5 Fuctional Names and Job Titles

Now let's discuss the functional names and job titles associated with organizational development roles. Organizations use various terms to describe the department and positions - let's explore them in more depth:

Functional Names:

In addition to "Human Resource Development", there are 10 common functional names:

- Organizational Effectiveness - emphasizes improving overall organizational performance and effectiveness.

- Talent Development - focuses on developing and nurturing talent.

- Learning and Development - underscores continuous learning and growth.

- People and Culture - reflects creating a positive, inclusive environment. 

- Change Management - highlights managing organizational change.

- Employee Experience - focuses on the employee journey.

- Leadership Development - highlights developing future leaders.

- OD (Organization Development) - improves organizational effectiveness and health.

Job Titles:

Some common job titles include:

- OD Specialist - focuses on specific OD areas like change or process improvement.

- Organizational Effectiveness Manager - oversees organizational effectiveness strategy. 

- Talent Development Manager - designs and implements talent development programs.

- Learning and OD Manager - combines learning programs and OD initiatives.

- Change Management Consultant - helps navigate organizational change.

- Leadership Development Specialist - develops leadership capabilities. 

- OD Project Manager - manages OD projects and initiatives.

- People and Culture Specialist - creates a positive work environment.

- HR Business Partner - acts as a strategic advisor to business leaders.

Remember terminology may vary across regions and organizations. These examples convey common roles within human resource development. Additionally, new roles and titles may emerge as organizational needs and the field evolves. Regardless of specific roles, human resource development professionals require excellent interpersonal abilities, leadership, problem-solving, and strategic thinking to support organizational success by developing talent and fostering a competitive, engaging environment. 

Section 6 The History of OD

We now come to Part 6, focusing on the development of organizational development historically. 

First, the expansion of OD from the US worldwide:

OD gradually spread from the United States to Europe and Asia, influencing approaches to organizational change and development globally. Here is a brief history:

In the 1930s, OD originated in the US with the pioneering work of Kurt Lewin, emphasizing action research. Group experiments and sensitivity training emerged in the 1940s-1950s to enhance interpersonal skills.

In the 1960s, OD expanded to Europe, adopted by the UK, France, Netherlands, Germany, and others. The UK was an early adopter, with the Tavistock Institute advancing the socio-technical systems approach in the 1960s. OD spread in France in the 1970s. Dutch companies also incorporated OD practices then to foster growth, communication, and employee empowerment. In Germany, OD gained traction as organizations sought to address rapid industrialization and globalization.

By the 1990s, OD reached Asia, including Japan, India, China, and Singapore, driven by rapid economic growth, globalization, and cultural diversity in the region. 

This global diffusion reflects OD's evolution and ability to address diverse organizational needs within cultural and economic contexts.

Next, the development of OD in the US from the 1930s-1990s:

In the 1940s, amidst World War 2, OD's roots emerged in action research and group dynamics. Recognizing effective teamwork's importance in turbulent conditions, action research provided a framework for simultaneous research and change. Understanding group dynamics - how individuals interact within teams - became crucial for mission objectives and organizational effectiveness.

In the 1950s, post-war recovery efforts advanced OD, evolving action research to emphasize data feedback's importance in facilitating change. Organizations like the National Training Laboratories (NTL) and National Education Association (NEA) were early adopters, conducting research and training. 

In the 1960s, the civil rights movement and Vietnam War shaped OD's trajectory. Concepts like System 4, team building, and Gestalt theory rose to prominence, adopted early on by companies like Esso, TRW Systems, and General Mills for their potential to boost performance. This period also marked the rise of the term "organizational development" and the influential work of thinkers like Richard Beckhard, Warren Bennis, Douglas McGregor, and Ed Schein in shaping OD foundations.

The 1970s marked OD's official emergence as a recognized field, influenced by the women's movement's impact on discussions of race, gender, and organizational dynamics. Situational management grid models like the Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid gained popularity, focusing on leadership styles. Conflict resolution and negotiation skills became integral to OD interventions, along with open systems planning emphasizing external environments.

In the 1980s, Japanese manufacturing and global competition significantly impacted OD. Total Quality Management (TQM), Quality of Work Life (QWL), strategic thinking, and process redesign emerged as key developments and approaches.

The 1990s brought new OD challenges and approaches with increased mergers and acquisitions and the Internet's rapid growth. Appreciative Inquiry, global virtual teams, self-managed teams, coaching, and large group interventions gained prominence as OD continued evolving to meet changing global landscapes and organizational needs to adapt, innovate and stay competitive.

Section 7 Influential Figures

Now let's explore influential figures who have significantly shaped the field of organizational development and leadership. Their groundbreaking concepts have informed OD practitioners for generations.

Kurt Lewin was a prominent psychologist and pioneer of social psychology. His work focused on understanding human behaviour and social influences on individuals and groups. In his influential book "Field Theory in Social Science," Lewin introduced the concept of "field theory" proposing that human behaviour is dynamically influenced by internal psychological factors and the external social environment. His ideas and research established the foundations for many psychological theories and the emergence of social psychology as a discipline.

Chris Argyris was a renowned organizational theorist and management scholar known for his work on organizational learning and the theory of action. In "Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective" co-authored with Donald Schön, Argyris emphasized examining the beliefs and assumptions underlying individual and organizational behaviour. He introduced "double-loop learning" which involves questioning not just actions but underlying values and assumptions guiding them. His concepts have profoundly shaped organizational development, leadership, and learning.

Peter Senge is a systems thinker and management consultant renowned for his work on organizational learning and learning organizations. In his influential book "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization," Senge introduced the concept of learning organizations to foster continuous learning and adaptation. He emphasized the interconnections between components in a system and the importance of personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking. His ideas have significantly impacted organizational development, leadership, and management.

Warren Bennis was a highly respected leadership scholar and author. His classic work "On Becoming a Leader" explored the qualities and characteristics underpinning effective leadership, emphasizing self-awareness, authenticity, continual learning, and adaptability. He highlighted the importance of personal growth and developing leadership capabilities over a lifetime. Bennis's insights have shaped leadership development programs and guided aspiring leaders globally.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a prominent social scientist, author, and management professor regarded for her work on organizational change and leadership. In "The Change Masters," Kanter examined successful change leadership strategies, emphasizing innovation, flexibility, and inclusivity in managing change. She explored how effective leaders mobilize and empower individuals and teams to adapt and embrace change as an opportunity for growth. Her research and writings have been seminal in shaping the field of organizational behavior and change management.

Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. co-authored the highly influential book "In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies." Their research identified key drivers of excellence in high-performing companies, including customer focus, employee empowerment, decentralized decision-making, and fostering innovation. Their work revolutionized management thinking and profoundly impacted organizational approaches to strategy, leadership, and culture.

John P. Kotter is a renowned leadership expert and Harvard Business School professor. His acclaimed book "Leading Change" delves into an influential eight-step process for leading and implementing organizational change effectively. His methodology focuses on creating urgency, building coalitions, forming a strategic vision, enlisting support through communication, empowering action, generating wins, and embedding changes in culture. Kotter’s work has helped generations of organizational leaders succeed at complex change. 

David Cooperrider is a distinguished organizational development and change management scholar. With Diana Whitney, he co-authored "Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change," introducing Appreciative Inquiry (AI) - a strengths-based approach to transformational change. Cooperrider proposed organizations should discover

Section 8 Variety of OD Models

We have now reached Part 8 of our discussion. Let's explore some key organizational development models that can substantially impact performance and effectiveness. As we examine these frameworks, I welcome your perspectives and participation.

To begin, let's look at Human Performance Technology (HPT). HPT is a systematic methodology for improving individual and organizational performance. It involves analyzing performance gaps, identifying root causes, and implementing targeted interventions. HPT focuses on aligning people, processes, and systems to optimize performance and achieve desired outcomes.

Next is Appreciative Inquiry. This strengths-based approach involves leveraging organizational strengths to drive positive change. It entails identifying and understanding peak strengths, envisioning an aspirational future state, and collaboratively creating plans to achieve that vision. Appreciative Inquiry follows a "4D" cycle - Discover, Dream, Design, and Destiny.

The ORID Focused Conversation model facilitates effective communication and decision-making through a structured dialogue process. It comprises four stages - Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, and Decisional. This framework promotes active listening, deeper understanding, and collaborative decision-making. 

John Kotter's Change Management Model provides an influential roadmap for leading organizational change. Developed by renowned expert John Kotter, it outlines an eight-step process including creating urgency, building coalitions, forming a strategic vision, enlisting support via communication, empowering action, generating wins, and embedding changes. Kotter emphasizes strong leadership and communication when managing change.

The Lean Methodology identifies eight common types of waste in processes - defects, overproduction, waiting, unused talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and overprocessing. By eliminating these waste sources, organizations can improve efficiency, lower costs, and enhance productivity.

Problem-solving frameworks like 8D, DMAIC, PDCA, and Kaizen provide structured approaches for process improvement. 8D facilitates systematic problem-solving. DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) is a data-driven improvement framework. PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) is a continuous improvement cycle. Kaizen focuses on sustained incremental enhancements.

The McKinsey 7S Model examines how key organizational elements interact and align. It considers seven interrelated components - Strategy, Structure, Systems, Shared Values, Skills, Style, and Staff. Leaders can apply this model to assess and optimize organizational effectiveness and strategic alignment.

Action Learning combines concrete actions with reflective learning to solve complex organizational challenges. Small groups collaborate on real projects, reflect on outcomes, and adjust based on lessons learned. This approach develops individual and collective learning while providing solutions. It is commonly used in leadership development and organizational change initiatives.

The OD Process provides a systematic methodology to improve organizational effectiveness, efficiency, and health. The six stages include - Entering & Contracting, Diagnosing, Data Gathering & Feedback, Designing Interventions, Managing Change, and Evaluating & Institutionalizing.

Deming's 14 Points comprise management principles for organizational excellence and quality improvement. The principles cover themes like constancy of purpose, adopting a new philosophy, ceasing dependence on inspection, driving out fear, and instituting leadership and education. Deming's teachings are credited with shaping the quality management discipline.

Those are some of the most impactful OD models. Now I'm curious - which frameworks resonate most or apply to your organizational context? Are there any models you would like to learn more about? Please share your perspectives.

Section 9 The Requirements of OD Professional 

We now come to Part 9, focusing on the expertise required of organizational development practitioners. Let's examine the key skills, knowledge areas, and responsibilities associated with successful OD professionals.

In terms of skills, OD practitioners need to be adept at:

- Managing the consulting process, requiring business acumen to understand the organizational context.

- Building relationships through emotional intelligence, stakeholder engagement, networking, and people profiling. 

- Communicating effectively via impactful presentations, constructive feedback, and tactful communication.

- Project management, including facilitation, collaboration, planning, and execution. 

- Data analysis and diagnosis by gathering and interpreting organizational data.

- Designing interventions through change management, tailoring initiatives, and influencing stakeholders.

- Process consultation and facilitation to guide groups through collaborative processes. 

- Developing client capability via instructional design, training, lecturing, and coaching.

- Evaluating organizational change by assessing impact, writing analytical reports, and applying rigorous methodology.

Regarding knowledge areas, it is important for OD practitioners to possess expertise in:

- Psychology, organizational behaviour, and group dynamics.

- Organizational culture and change management.

- Adult learning principles and theories.

- Data analysis, statistics, and research methodologies. 

- Systems thinking and process consultation.

- Organizational effectiveness frameworks and models.

- Leadership development and coaching.

- Project planning, management, and evaluation.

In terms of roles, OD professionals take on responsibilities such as:

- Facilitators guiding collaborative organizational processes.

- Collaborators working jointly with stakeholders on interventions. 

- Integrators aligning perspectives, systems, and functions.

- Diagnosticians conducting organizational assessments.

- Change agents driving strategic transformation and adaptation.

- Coaches and mentors developing leadership capabilities.

- Training and development specialists designing learning initiatives.

- Culture shapers promote organizational values and norms.

- Consultants offering guidance on OD strategy and implementation.

The expertise required spans diverse disciplines and responsibilities. However, it empowers OD professionals to drive positive organizational change. What competencies do you believe are most important for OD practitioners? I welcome your perspectives.



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