ORGL-516: Organizational Development.
Course learning focused on seeing and changing organizations through the research, theory, models and praxis of the organizational development field and the consulting practice of Organizational Development (OD). Course learning focused on how organizational development consultants, both internal and external, can support both leaders and all members of an organization. Pedagogy investigated multiple methods, tools and technologies used to implement major change effectively in organizations. Course competencies invited me to 1) become aware of the nature, application and practice of the profession of Organizational Development 2) develop an understanding of some of the major Organizational Development intervention methods and tools used to increase individual, team, departmental, and organizational effectiveness such as team building, strategic planning, large group event facilitation, internal communications, merger dynamics, leadership development and management training.
Leadership and organizational development are positionally very different. Leadership requires a structural difference in that a leader is often placed at the top of the hierarchy or at the center of a hierarchy. An organizational development consultant walks alongside an organization or within an organization and supports management and leadership. Additionally, an organizational development consultant shouldn’t be swayed by politics but should maintain integrity. Critical thinking plays a significant role as an organizational development consultant. Organizational development focuses on “planned change” (Beckhard, 2006, pg. 3). Change is one part of the whole responsibility of an organizational leader. The organizational development consultant helps implement change (Distelhorst, n.d.) While change is constant, I just completed an Organizational Communication Audit
(ORGL-504) on an organization that needed very little change and change is embedded within the organizational structure. There is a systemic approach towards change when an organizational development consultant is included (Beckhard, 2006, pg. 3). One of the negatives of Organizational Development is, “The problem with too many OD folks is they are not business people. They don’t think like business people, they don’t talk like business people, and they don’t behave like business people” (Bradford & Burke, 2006, pg. 846). Organizational leaders are often business people and are focused on the bottom line.
Organizational development consultants recognize that change starts with the leader “at the top” (Beckhard, 2006, pg. 4). This implies understanding that an organizational development consultant is not in a top tier position rather influencing change laterally. Marshak writes that there needs to be, “the whole idea of data-based change, like action research and survey research methods, presumes the existence and validity of an objective, discernible reality that can be investigated to produce valid data and information to influence change” (Marshak, 2006, pg. 834). Many organizations, “have a culture that ignores the human side of an enterprise” due to organizational leadership that focuses on the economics of business with little emphasis on the relational side (Bradford & Burke, 2006, pg. 842). Leaders need to focus on the big picture while Organizational Development consultants need to focus specifically on change management and change related issues. While organizational development consultants need to think big picture in order to understand the concerns of a leader in better context, the role of an organizational development consultant is to look deeply at the underlying issues that create dysfunction.
This course gave me the tools to pursue a career in the field of Organizational Development. Soon after this course I met the Founder and Executive Director at Hand to Hold and am currently employed as an Organizational Development Consultant/Regional Coordinator applying consultant-centered approaches in the development of a grass roots non-profit. More importantly, it offered me the flexibility in recognizing that I am still a student and applying this coursework in real organizations will take many years of transformative engagement.
Biech, E. (2007). Thriving through change: A leader's practical guide to change mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.
Gallos, J. V. (2006). Organization development: A Jossey-Bass reader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.