I’ve been thinking about how to formulate with sufficient detail to be useable and in a temporally logical manner, the things that the top OD folks think about as they move from the beginning of an OD project to its end. The problem, of course, is that each step requires the personal judgment needed to move a step from number 3 to 9 or step 12 to 5. Most steps will need to be repeated over and over as the process unfolds anyway.
I’m offering a loose recipe that will always require your own tweaks, modifications, and embellishments. It’s stuff worth thinking about for those who want to increase their ability to manage change in human systems.
Go to http://www.chumans.com/human-systems-resources/process-of-od.html for the document.
Let me know what you would add, change, or subtract from the list that would make it more useful! I’d really like that!
Previously we looked at the stages of the organization development process: Contracting and Re-contracting, and Data Gathering, Intervention, Evaluation and Disengagement. Those stages are applied across the five levels of organizational systems—personal, interpersonal, group, organization, and community—as needed. These levels make up the second dimension of the Meta-Model of Planned Change.
At the personal level individuals are systems of intellect, emotion, and physicality that include their personalities, belief systems, opinions, attitudes, aptitudes, and relationships with others outside of the organization. The OD practitioner works at this level of system to support increased functionality regarding behavior that impacts the other levels of the system. This is what makes the work of the practitioner different from the psychotherapist—though we often need to refer clients to the latter.
Individuals, of course, interact with other individuals on a one-to-one basis. These relationships range in quality from close to distant, from attraction to conflict, and from trusting to distrust. It is the quality of these relationships that often dictate the quality of groups and teams that are the next level. The healthy organization can tolerate only a certain amount of dysfunction at this level. Where needed, the practitioner works to resolve dysfunctional interpersonal relationships to higher levels.
How well people work together in the group level of the system dictates a major portion of organizational effectiveness. At this level of systems strange things (that we have become quite used to) occur. Think of meetings you’ve been in where the individuals present were intelligent, likeable, and well-meaning, yet the meetings were dull and unproductive beyond belief. Groups are the fundamental units of organization. The bulk of the work of most organizations is done at this level. If the organization’s groups and teams do work well, the organization will do work well. Helping groups become teams and helping teams improve their productivity and levels of satisfaction is a crucial skill area for the practitioner.
An organization is essentially a group of groups working together. Sometimes these groups, these units of the organization, are not working well together. They may be at odds about priorities, strategies, or tactics. They may see themselves as competing for resources, status, or attention. Regardless, the OD practitioner helps her client identify and resolve as needed the various misalignments and conflicts toward improving productivity and satisfaction.
A very important aspect of the organizational level is culture. What is the culture of the organization? Is it helping or getting in the way of effectiveness and efficiency? Where are key levers needed to shift the culture if need be? The culture of an organization dictates as we’ve discussed earlier the beliefs, emotions, and general behavior of an organization. All of which in turn impact the functionality of the organization. How might a very authoritarian, bureaucratic, command-and-control culture that is very stable but stifles creativity be changed to one that is more participative and collaborative and, therefore, more able to innovate and be flexible enough to develop new products quickly? The skilled OD practitioner can identify and help change the human processes that hold culture in place.
The next series of posts will examine the third dimension of the Meta-Model of Planned Change—the eight disciplines of managing change in human systems. Stay tuned!