Introduction to Organizational Development Pt. 1

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it.
–Bruce Lee

Organizational Development (OD) is a practice that has been gaining momentum over the last few years. Defined as “a process that applies a broad range of behavioral science knowledge and practices to help organizations build their capacity to change and to achieve greater effectiveness, including increased financial performance, customer satisfaction, and organization member engagement,” it is an approach that requires a high level of adaptability in order to be successful. Practitioners apply a broad range of research and analysis techniques to stage appropriate interventions and counsel to guide companies towards their goals.

Organizational Development is highly evidence based. Considering what the evidence shows, practitioners must be flexible. If decisions prove ineffective they have to be able to pivot without bias; if effective they must be able to hold the course. OD practitioners are constantly analyzing market trends and finding those that will have an effect on the specific industry they are working with. However, they are also looking at all the different aspects and inner workings of the company itself. Never failing to consider how each individual part affects the whole, and that everything is interlinked, practitioners look at not only the organizational structure but also the human element of the company. One cannot solve a problem without understanding how other parts of the organization are contributing to the problem.

Moving out of linear progression, Organizational Development is more cyclical, fluid in approach. Instead of following a designated path, practitioners go into the process with an encyclopedia of different strategies, which are applied based circumstantially. Adaptability, and a diversified tool belt allow them to bring effective consultation to overcome a wide range of hindrances. Now that we have discussed the general theory of OD and the OD practitioner, next week we will be diving into a deeper discussion of how the process is applied and how it facilitates success.

Template For Making A 2013 Plan

Last week we talked about the importance of reflection. It is a great tool for getting in tune with what you need to do in the future. However, inevitably we must move our focus forwards and leave the past behind us in order to be successful. It is time to start the planning stage and the key to great planning is in the details. Getting these details right can be a task, so I created a template (inspired from The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership) to help guide you.

I have found that the first step is to get your bearings. Try and establish the fundamentals of your plan. Here is how the template breaks down for this portion:

– What do you want in 2013?
– If _________ is what you want, then what are your priorities?
– If _________ are your priorities, what will you do?

Now that you have figured out the general direction behind your plan then it is time to start developing the different components necessary to get to your destination:

– Which of your strengths can you leverage?
– What will keep you motivated?
– How can you get the most from your time?
– Who do you need/want to support you?
– What do you need to learn?
– What mindset is needed?
– Where can you use a both/and approach instead of either/or?

Each of these aspects can determine the success or failure of your plan, so it is important to spend the appropriate amount of time considering them.

Going into any situation, it is always best to have a plan. It affords us the time to consider different possibilities and weigh the options for overcoming them. A good plan should be well thought out, and this template will help you systematically address some of the more important considerations. As 2013 is quickly approaching, it is time to get started. Have a Happy New Year.

The Power of Reflection: Getting Back In Tune

It’s getting close to the time of year when many of us start considering New Year’s resolutions and begin developing strategies for our next trip around the sun. Amidst all of this looking forward, an important part of this process is often overlooked: reflection. Taking the time to look back over the past year and analyzing it can help us make more successful resolutions for the future.

Reflection can only be effective when we look not only at the successes but also the failures. The human mind is geared to remember the good times, but being honest about past events provides our best opportunity for learning. To get the most out of this reflection exercise, we can start by breaking down the year month by month and ask ourselves the hard questions.

Remember, the past is in the past and a reflective exercise is not meant to beat us back into a corner. Taking a look back has to come with the understanding that it can’t be changed, only learned from. With that principle in mind, here are some questions to consider:

·      What were my achievements?
·      What were my failures?
·      What values did I honor?
·      What values did I neglect?
·      Where did I play small?
·      Where did I stand out?

Think of this process as being similar to tuning an instrument. Figuring out where we were too flat or too sharp in our 2012 approach allows us to make necessary corrections. Across stages worldwide, bands always make sure they are in tune before they begin the show. This same principle applies to us as we prepare to jump into our new year. Before we start, we can make valuable use of our time by making sure to reflect upon the previous year’s events and see where we can make appropriate adjustments. It is the perfect time of year for such an exercise; we can be honest with ourselves and take advantage of the opportunity to get ourselves in tune.