We believe that people and organizations are doing the best they can – all the time. If they are not satisfied with their current state and are interested in changing, we help them:
- clarify their current state
- identify their goals, next steps, and barriers
- maintain the energy and momentum they need to achieve their objectives
What is Organization Development?
Organization Development (OD) utilizes what we know about systems, and what we know about human behavior, to plan and manage the development of organizations into thriving, growing, healthy, organic human systems that meet the needs of all their stakeholders.
OD practitioners improve the effectiveness of an organization by applying knowledge from the behavior sciences – psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, and other related disciplines. Since its beginnings in the 1920s, the art and science of OD has accumulated a significant body of knowledge through actual OD work in organizations.
Human Dimension OD Services Include:
All people and organizations are constantly going through change. Change is just another word for growth – and continuous growth is the way of the world now. If you and your organization are not growing, you and it will soon be obsolete in today’s world. We provide understanding and support processes to improve an organization’s ability to implement change in healthy and least destructive ways.
People and organizations have their own answers. We provide the processes that help them become aware of those answers, and develop actions plans that help them get where they want to go.
Differences are healthy and necessary for personal and organizational growth – but only if they are worked through to resolution. We help our clients do that, and we help them view differences not merely as problems to be solved, but rather, as the stepping stones they are.
Today’s global world requires that people understand other cultures and act with awareness and appreciation of differences. This also means that a person needs to understand his own culture and its effects on people of other cultures. We heighten self-awareness, and awareness of one’s own culture and the cultures of others, as appropriate.
Research shows that social and emotional abilities are four times more important than mental abilities in determining professional success. All leaders need to have a high “EQ.” We provide instruments that measure emotional intelligence to identify the current competencies and areas for growth, and the coaching to support that growth.
Facilitation and Group Meeting Design
Sometimes people in organizations are too close to the questions to find the answers. We provide processes that facilitate their taking a clearer, more objective view, while at the same time ensuring that they are gathering the energy they will need to implement the answers.
Interpersonal Skills Training
All people in organizations need interpersonal skills to work in today’s collaborative work environments – even a two-person team needs special skills. We provide custom workshops that increase people’s interpersonal competencies.
Management and Leadership Development
Leadership can be taught. All managers have a leadership role. All employees have leadership roles these days. We provide assessments for determining their current reality, coaching to help them identify actions they can take to achieve their goals, and support along the way.
Personality Type Training
We have found that personality type training is an excellent foundational tool for people to understand themselves and others. It is useful in conflict management, self-management, stress management, teamwork, cross-cultural understanding, management, leadership, group problem-solving and decision-making, and in many other ways. We teach it to as many people in our client organizations as possible.
Teamwork and collaboration are greatly facilitated by team building processes. We provide workshops, meeting designs, and facilitation that enable teams to accelerate growth. We believe that two heads are indeed better than one, but only when there is an atmosphere of trust and mutuality, with systems that allow people to say what they really think and feel, and processes for decision making that that take those thoughts and feelings into account.
Training Your Trainers
Whenever possible, we like to transfer skills to our client’s in-house staff. This is not always possible of course, depending on the size of the company. For smaller companies we endeavor to provide ongoing support at a cost they can afford. We also provide resources for trainers.
OD Consultants are Different From Management Consultants
OD consultants are different from management consultants in that our “client” is the total organization, not just the management team. Of course, the growth of an organization and the growth of the people in it, especially the management team, are inextricably tied. Warner Burke, Ph.D., who teaches OD at Columbia University, once said that an OD practitioner’s client is the “lines” on the organization chart – the interactions between processes, departments, people, customers, suppliers, the board of directors, shareholders, the community, and all other stakeholders.
OD Tools and Processes (Interventions)
Like every field of practice, OD uses many specialized tools and processes. These are called Interventions. There are four basic categories of OD interventions. These are not distinct or exclusive methods and they are usually used in conjunction with each other:
- Human Processes: team building, conflict resolution, personal growth workshops, interpersonal skills and communications training, emotional intelligence training, coaching skills training…
- Techno-structural: total quality management, work process redesign…
- Human Resource Management: job design, hiring and selection, performance management, reward systems, multicultural training, coaching…
- Strategic: strategic planning/management, Future Search conferences that help large diverse groups discover common values, purposes, and projects; corporate culture change, building a “learning organization” in which people at all levels are continually learning, Open Space and other large group meeting methodologies…
OD Consultants use many tools and processes in their work. Because the list of tools is constantly growing, OD Consultants are always “in training.”
OD is a Step-by-step Process
Implementing OD processes is a lot like going to a physician. An OD practitioner first helps the organizational members to gather accurate data about the current state of their system. What is the current reality of the system? What are the system’s strengths and weaknesses ? The presenting symptoms? The problems? The issues? Then the OD practitioner helps the organization to devise ways to intervene into the system to facilitate its growth or stop its decline. After you make the intervention, we wait to see what happens before deciding the subsequent steps. (What has the impact been? What would be the appropriate next step to keep the energy going in the desired direction?) With today’s accelerated pace of constant change, this is the only way that works. In the past, organizations would assess, plan, and implement massive change projects, sometimes spanning years. Today, the OD profession focuses on helping organizations to deal with constant change and on building its capacity to learn – at the individual, team, and organizational levels of their system. When this becomes a way of life for the organization, the organization becomes flexible like the mast of a sailing ship that naturally adjusts to the changing winds.
Importance of Getting the Process Right
In OD work, how you do something is equally as important, and often more important, than what you do. It is critical that the intervention not only be the correct one, but also that it be done well, with the right group of people, and with the right facilitation and support. The first rule is, “Do no harm.” Many of us have experienced meetings that were more frustrating than helpful because the wrong people were invited, or team-building sessions that fell flat due to ineffective facilitation or low trust. And many of us have also experienced the thrill of a well-executed OD intervention, like a training workshop that was transformative, or a wonderfully energizing strategic planning session, or an insightful coaching session.
How to Choose an OD Consultant
The ever-increasing plethora of tools, processes, and interventions can easily overwhelm anyone looking for OD help. You ask yourself, “What should we look for? Should we hire someone to do Action Reflection Learning? Should we hire someone to do team building? Should we get a management coach? Who would that be, and who would he/she coach? And how would we inform the person to be coached? How should we set goals for the coaching process? Should we get someone who will do expert consulting to the management team in the area of organization development? Should we get someone to lead an Appreciative Inquiry or an Open Space meeting?” Using the wrong intervention can be worse than doing nothing. It can falsely raise employee expectations and lower their faith in management, in addition to wasting the company’s resources of time, money, and energy. It can frustrate the search and can even freeze the selection process. Click here for a very comprehensive list of characteristics you might look for when choosing an OD Consultant.
Consultant Must Fit With Your Management Team and Your Culture
The personality and style of your OD Consultant is as important as his or her experience and expertise. Think of it as hiring a member of your management team. It is equally important. Your OD consultant must be a person who can work within your corporate culture, and speak a language your management team and employees can relate to and comprehend. He or she must be credible to everyone. He or she must be able to sit on the boundary of your organization as an interested, objective, informed observer. He or she must provide accurate, informed feedback – the mirror in which organizational members can see themselves clearly.
Consultant’s Method Must be Congruent With the Client’s Need
OD practitioners must model the behaviors the client organization wants and needs to learn. He or she also must be a catalyst, providing a special presence that encourages and supports the people in the organization to be constantly aware of the health of their system.
The Human Dimension is a Full-Service Consultancy
There are many kinds of organizations that properly list themselves under the category, Organization Development. As in all fields of practice these days, specialization is normal and natural. Many firms specialize in providing one or a few OD interventions such as management training, or large group meeting technologies, or employee surveys, or Action Learning or other specific interventions. Some firms provide a full-service consultancy, including assisting management to develop an Organization Development strategy, and directing and assessing the ongoing implementation of the interventions that underpin the strategy. Due to the global requirements of organizations, many firms form networks of practice to provide this full service. We are one of these full-service firms. We like to help our clients diagnose their problems and determine an appropriate, targeted intervention. While it is sometimes obvious what type of intervention an organization needs, (for example, teambuilding) most often implementing an off-the-shelf intervention is a hit-or-miss proposition. Sometimes it works beautifully; sometimes it makes things worse, wastes a lot of time, energy, and resources, and reduces employee confidence in management. The consultant’s competence is a critical factor.