What Are the Best Practices in Organization Development?

Jim Murphy, at the Massachusetts Bay OD Learning Group blog asks, What are the best OD practices?

Seems like a useful question. Any thoughts?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 03/14/2006

Comments

Gautam Ghosh said…
hmm, let's see...

The best OD practices would be the ones that:

1. Reflect the times. Most OD interventions were invented around the middle of last century, and haven't really evolved with the generational changes. Some notable exceptions are of course, Open Space and Future Search ...but other interventions have not kept up.

2. Move from therapy mode to coaching mode. Most T group and sensitivity group popularised by NTL have been around the concept of therapy, but only one intervention like Appreciative Inquiry builds in the positive of the group.

3. Meets the needs of the group. Groups are increasingly virtual and corporations increasingly transactional. OD needs to help people to connect with the human side of the organization.
Terrence said…
Hey GG,

Welcome back!

And thanks for responding to this entry. It would be great to have a bunch of replies from folks in the fields of HR and OD.

Regards,
Terry
Fred Nickols said…
I think Gautam's remarks are on the mark, especially points 2 and 3. About point 1 I have a question: How does the age of an OD intervention affect its relevance or utility? Are we to toss out Euclidean geometry just because it's old? So, I'd like to see more specificity regarding this point.
Jim Murphy said…
Perhaps it is in bad taste to answer one's own question, but I would suggested that the most important practices in OD work are objectivity and reflection.

As to best practices obviously the question is so general that it might just as well be phrased as "what are your favorite OD practices?" To which, I would answer, Dialogue, whole systems, process consultation, and whole system change.
Terrence said…
Hey Fred and Jim.

Good to see you guys here.

Fred, You ask "How does the age of an OD intervention affect its relevance or utility?"

Good question. Hopefully Gautam will swing by and answer. For my part, one thing comes to mind. Some exercises (e.g. Lost On the Moon) have been used so much that managers can see it coming a mile away. A few years ago, I facilitated "Win As Much As You Can" and the managers in the class stopped me and said, "We know this one."

Jim, You said "the question is so general that it might just as well be phrased as 'what are your favorite OD practices?'"

That's actually not a bad question. But I would add to it: "And why?"

Terry
Gautam Ghosh said…
What I meant by age is that when the first team building interventions were started organizations had time to invest in those interventions.

Sometime along the way, the environment changed, contexts changed, assumptions about people and their employment changed, and yet, OD techniques haven't evolved to that extent.

It's not like tossing Euclidian geometry, but taking the same tools and moving from teaching through a blackboard to a virtual classroom !

Was I more clear in explaining it ?
Terrence said…
Gautam,
You wrote: "Sometime along the way, the environment changed, contexts changed, assumptions about people and their employment changed, and yet, OD techniques haven't evolved to that extent."

You're right that things have changed. Dramatically.

Look at globalization of economies, outsourcing, off-shoring.

Look at how technology is making the workplace "disappear" into a virtual kind of organization that exists wherever its workers might be.

Look at the high-flying white collar criminals that are driving a stake into the heart of leadership credibility and trust.

How can OD evolve to keep pace with so much change?

By coincidence this morning I read a great essay by OD legend Roger Harrison called "A Time For Letting Go"

http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2006/03/17.html#a1468

An excerpt:

"Most of my work since (entering the field of OD) has been
animated by three aims:

1.To empower individuals at all levels to contribute their highest
talents, to learn, and to make decisions,

2.To assist in the development of common purpose, shared vision,
and unity of effort in organizations,

3.To create a climate in organizations for open, cooperative and
supportive working relationships."

Terry

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