>It’s my job, I just do it

>So. This week I talk about the closing gap between L&D and OD. Hmm. Here’s what I’ll be talking about.

I’ve been asked to provide a case study of what my experience in the workplace has shown me about this development. It’s quite a simple story really. When I came in to LBi, it had just passed a year of being a newly merged company. My role was initially to provide L&D service to the organisation. This included a range of activity from setting up Interview Skills training, to managing the training budget, to managing our agency CPD activity, and designing and delivering internal training courses. And that about covered a lot of activity in my first year.

My second year saw a lot of the organisational change and development I wanted to get involved in, and had the opportunity to explore. Thankfully, no-one in the business really had an agenda for L&D, so I was fairly free to push the boundaries in the way I thought (and still think) best. So last year saw a lot of activity done in developing a competency framework for the business. This is now being rolled out, but it took a long time to get there. The business has company values which no-one really understood. From there it was a case of defining them into terms staff understood, not PR talk, plain English talk. After that, I worked with each department, and levels within departments to define what the values meant for them, and how their day job reflect the values.

And from this we now have our competency framework. It’s in Version1 at the minute and will be a continual evolving beast. But this was one stage of an organisational initiative which needed to happen. If you look at the Burke-Litwin model of OD, it offers an interesting perspective about factors you need to consider when engaging in, and developing an OD initiative. I know what the organisation culture is in the business, who from the Leadership team needed to be involved, what the purpose of the competency framework was to be, which systems were currently in place to support it, what management practices are currently being carried out, where the motivation lay for the framework, and how it would support organisational and individual performance.

I won’t go into the details of the above, but I’m glad I have the Burke-Litwin model to help me consider if I approached the exercise in the right way. But I think I’m sending you on a bit of a red-herring. All I’ve done is described how I approached an OD task. I’ve not really talked about the closing gap between L&D and OD. So why is this question important? Where does it come from? And what do we hope to achieve from it?

Well, I think the question is important because in an organisation of any size where there is an L&Der of some description, the business can and does see the benefit of having such a person involved fully in providing support to the business, and (at a cynical level) serving to put a face on taking staff development seriously. What an organisation may not, and to my mind, will not realise is the benefit of having someone dedicated to OD. I’ve talked before about who tends to be an OD professional (in my post about what is Organisational Development), where I mention that it can be anyone in a business who has a mindset for dealing with OD issues.

This is not restricted to those in the HR field. Indeed, it’s anyone who identifies a business need, and helps to develop and deliver a solution which improves business performance. In the automotive industry this tends to be the engineers as they are concerned with continuous improvement and lean thinking. In healthcare it tends to be operational staff who want efficient caring of patients. In businesses it tends to be HR.

The L&Der tends to be the one from the HR and other groups, who sees that there’s a need for an organisational initiative. They tend to be the one who knows how to engage with the right people, and in the right way. They tend to be the one who know how to develop a solution and deliver it. They tend to be the one who knows how to roll it out and communicate it to the business. And that’s why there’s a growing questions of where the closing gap comes from.

What does this mean for the future of both the professions? Erm. Do you know the lottery numbers for this Saturday please? This is an academic question which will not be answered any time soon. We just have to wait and see how varying businesses respond to their organisational issues, and how these get answered. There’s an ever growing distinction of roles and responsibilities of every aspect of HR, and this is another in that mix.

For me, for now, it means business as usual. I do L&D, and I do OD in my spare time. Because that’s what’s demanded of me and my role. I enjoy it and find it challenging. There will continue to be L&Ders who find they’re asked to do OD. They won’t be going to a workshop or training course about how to transfer their skills, they’ll just get on and do it. I find the question of the closing gap slightly bizarre and frankly am unperturbed by it. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. I just don’t see it particularly adds to the profession. It’s a good question for those concerned on the matter, for me it seems another example of navel gazing which could be better time spent elsewhere.

>The closing gap between OD and L&D

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This week I put up a post about Organisational Development and my learnings from the L&D2020 workshop held by the Training Journal. Today I’d like to let you know about the actual session itself and the topics talked about.
The Benefits of an OD Approach
Linda Holbeche opened the day’s proceedings with an introduction to OD from her research based consultancy the Holbeche Partnership. She spoke about the ability of an organisation to be agile and ensuring the ‘right’ people are focused on the ‘right’ things and engaged in collective effort. To support you also then need the ‘right’ kinds of management and leadership, the ‘right’ business model, processes, structures and systems.
Linda gave some insight into what constitutes a high performing organisation:
– Adaptable and change-able
– Enable innovation and are knowledge rich
– Boundaryless
– Stimulate individuals to higher levels of performance
– Great places to work
– Values based
From the work she has carried out, her research and exeprience, OD applies to:
– Changes in the strategy, structure and/or processes of an entire system
– Based on the application (and transfer) of behavioural science disciplines e.g. group dynamics, leadership, strategy and work design
– An adaptive process for planning and managing change
– The design, implementation and reinforcement of change
– Oriented to organisational effectivneess; supporting organisation improvement and sustaining organisation renewal
At its core, OD has the following humanistic values:
– Democracy and participation
– Openness to lifelong learning and experimentation
– Equity and fairness – the worth of every individual
– Valid information and informed choice
– Enduring respect for the human side of enterprise
Typical OD applications include:
– designing and delivering L&D interventions
– process improvement
– HR’s transformational role
– culture change
– leadership development
– team development
– conflict resolution
– supporting clients in major change and organisation design projects
– generalist system health practitioners; keeping the organisation healthy, ethical and agile to face future challenges
I found Linda’s presentation a good introduction to OD and to provide a lot of context to the range of work that OD includes.
Developing Your OD Agenda
Next we had Martin Saville present a fascinating OD model. Martin is an independent consultant and has his own practice – Martin Saville Consulting. The first point Martin raised is that those work in OD don’t come from a particular background, instead they have a mindset. That mindset is about looking at a complete organisation and finding ways to ensure each part understands that if a piece of work is to be achieved successfully, other relevant parts need to be involved, and if they’re not it has a direct impact on operational effectiveness.
The model he presented is called the Burke-Litwin model which hopefully is presented below clearly.

Okay so apologies for the lack of clarity – my first time trying to add an image to a post (any advice welcome). Essentially you have two broad categories of the way an organisation responds and reacts to change. There are transformational factors which are factors that drive the change. These include – the external environment, mission and strategy, leadership, the organisation culture and individual and organisational performance. Then there are transactional factors which you need in order for the the change to be effective. These include – structure, management practices, work unit, motivation, systems and processes, task requirements and individual and individual needs and values.
Once you take some time to think about an OD challenge you are facing, you can look at the Burke-Litwin model to help you identify what are the factors you’ve considered and which you do need to pay attention to. Martin admitted the model isn’t perfect and excludes some factors such as communication processes but it at least provides a holistic perspective of the factors which will help support and drive change.
The Emergence of the L&OD Function
This presentation was delivered by Lee Sears whom I have spoken about before in the post about the future skillset of L&D. The information he presented was no different to that, and if you’re interested, have a read of the post.
What it did help to do was re-surface his findings of how L&D and OD are becoming more and more entwined. Even though they are separate disciplines, the cross-over is becoming more commonplace, and in fact many HR/L&D/Project Management/Internal Communication specialists are all engaged in activities which are in effect OD, but they’ve just not been exposed to the terminology or processes or structures to help them think of it in that way.
Case Studies
There were some interesting case studies from the civil service and from a housing organisation that offered insights into how OD has helped with real organisational issues. Unfortunately, the decks weren’t available and so I can’t divulge information as it’s history now. From memory though, the housing organisation were reaching a point in their development where a number of mergers and formation of Group status meant OD played an important part in the way very different groups and senior management who had not worked together previously and were now expected to.
The civil service was an interesting case of a department whose resources had been outsourced with the remaining incumbents feeling bereft of responsibility and control over what the outsourcing company was producing and the quality of that work was in question. OD helped to bring this group to accept what their situation is, what they currently do, their responsibilities, and then included the outsourced company in conversations about current and future practices.
Where I’ve not included specific references to materials, all the above is taken from the respective individuals decks and is to be attributed to them directly unless otherwise stated.