>So what is Organisational Development then?

>On Monday I attended the last in the series of the Training Journal workshops entitled L&D2020 the future of workplace learning. This session in particular was about the Closing gap with L&D and OD – Organisational Development. The others that I’ve attended this year have been about understanding how to get ROI from training and the future skillset of L&D. This session was of particular interest to me because I find the world of OD fascinating.

The first question to answer then is what is OD. Here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

Organization development (OD) is a planned, organization-wide effort to increase an organization’s effectiveness and viability. Warren Bennis has referred to OD as a response to change, a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of organization so that they can better adapt to new technologies, marketing and challenges, and the dizzying rate of change itself. OD is neither “anything done to better an organization” nor is it “the training function of the organization”; it is a particular kind of change process designed to bring about a particular kind of end result.

That’s a very good definition but it is long-winded. L&D is about the upskilling of staff across technical and behavioural skills. OD has a broader remit than that and is about looking at wider business needs to ensure the business is geared up to deliver on the strategy and KPIs. This can look like a variety of activities and initiatives from Onboarding programmes to employee engagement surveys to talent management programmes to grad programmes to competency framework development. And that’s a shortlist of activities.

Where does OD sit then? More and more it’s the case that OD is its own department and normally reports directly into the CEO. But who is classed as an OD professional? Now this is the interesting piece. Although conventional wisdom may suggest it sits best with HR or L&D, in actuality the people involved in this line of work can come from Operations, Exec, Project Management, Strategy or HR. It’s not about a specific person as such that is best suited to OD but more a mindset.

What yesterday helped me to realise is that I’m good at L&D. I’ve spent the last 8 years of my career perfecting this art and I’m doing a bloody good job of it. If i want to start expanding my role – and that’s what this is about, I need to start developing my understanding of OD theories and methodologies. I have an introductory understanding of some of the methodologies and of the range of activities or initiatives that require an OD approach. I think I’m starting from a good place, and from here on in it’s only about continuing my own learning on this and helping my business with both L&D and OD initiatives.

I’ll be posting another blog this week about the actual session itself and the key messages from the different speakers and case studies.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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