Organisational development is a change management strategy that has been employed across the world for more than 40 years. Its primary definition is concerned with the way in which organisations and people function and how they can be made to function more productively by using social and human processes. The need for the organisational development process is based on the fact that businesses and individuals go through so much change and exist in such dynamic and fast-paced environments. In the work place employees go through rapid changes in response to factors like client taste and preference, the competition of modern technology, different cultural influences and different processes of doing things and a greater demand for efficiency, sustainability and productivity. External bureaucracy like changes to government legislation may also put staff members through periods of big change.
Empowering Change Through the Organisational Development Process
For a business the organisational development process raises some profound questions:
- What changes can we see in our business environments?
- Do we have strategies in place to deal with these changes?
- How can organisational development help to tackle the challenges created by these changes?
How is organisational development different to other models of change?
During the 1990s organisational development became a popular method for dealing with conflict and problems in government where understanding of core obstacles needed to be enhanced for problems to be solved successfully. It has been used successfully to overcome challenges such as poverty reduction, responses to HIV/AIDS campaigns and in problems where environmental sustainability has been an issue.
The Need for Change
While it is certainly is part of human nature to adapt in order to survive the rate of change required of people today is highly demanding. With change comes new social values, new ways of getting things done and many new opportunities. Businesses need change in order to thrive, but they can only benefit if their organisations and the people in them have been equipped with the coping skills and understanding required to take things to the next level.
We need to look closely at the changes that are taking place and ask questions like whether the changes are due to external forces, whether we can see the change taking place inside us and how many different types of change we are faced with.
There are two primary types of change in organisational behaviour we mention here: organisational change and organisational development.
Organisational change is the relationship between organisational change and human change. Organisational change may include services and products, systems, technologies and management techniques. In order for organisational change to be effective it must be embraced by all employees and often performance management techniques need to be employed to ensure this happens. If we approach change from a methodical point of view we first need to address the employees’ needs for knowledge through which to change their attitudes and behaviours before we can expect to affect change within an organisation or group.
Organisational development is simply a technique or methodology that introduces changes into an environment. Features of effective organisational development include: it is usually planned and makes use of behavioural science knowledge, it targets organisational culture as an area for change and applies it on a broad scale to whole groups or departments. It takes strong leadership, requires good structure, performance management strategies and must be managed from the top.
Stan Horwitz is a Master OD Practitioner with more than 20 years of experience across all industries in South Africa. He runs HR Shop to help organisations address their own change management needs and also operates as a business and leadership consultant throughout the country. Contact Stan here.