The purpose of this paper is to discuss what organizational development entails. The paper is divided into three parts; the process of organizational development, theories explaining organizational development and finally requirements for a successful organizational change.
The process of organizational development
The process of organizational development is based upon the course of action model which starts with the identification of a problem or the need for change. The entire process proceeds through planning the required intervention, assessment, implementation of the intervention, data gathering for the sole purpose of evaluating the intervention measures and finally, as well as determining whether the satisfactory process has been meet or further interventions are needed. This process is cyclical and it tends to end when the intended development goals/ results have been achieved (Newton, 1972).
The process of organizational development starts when a problem is recognized in an organization and it has an impact on the mission as well as the change that is desired. OD can also come into existence when management come up with a vision of better methods and it desires to improve the operations of the organization. It is important to note that the organization is only entitled to implementing its development issues when it experiences problems.
Once a decision has been made on how to deal with the current situation, the next stage involves assessing the situation in order to have an understanding of it. The assessment can be carried out through the following ways; focus group, interviews, document review or organizational sensing. This assessment can be carried out by an outside expert or an employee of the organization.
When the situation has been fully assessed, the next part is coming up with an intervention plan. The nature of the change that is desired will determine the type of intervention measures to be employed. Interventions could include informing of team interventions, training and development, individual intervention or structural interventions.
The next step involves the implementation of the interventions plan. During as well as after the implementation of the plan data is gathered. What kind of data is to be gathered is determined by goals to be attained. The data is very vital as it is used as a tool of assessing the effectiveness of the intervention measures. The data gathered is reported to the decision-makers within the organization and it is their role to determine whether the intended goals were met or not. If the goals were met, the process comes to an end, but if they were not met, the development process cycle is repeated to find another intervention measure.
Theories associated with organization development
There are a number of theories that are associated with OD. One of these theories is Lewin’s three-step theory which is very simple, though very important. The theory suggested that an organization undergoes three steps popularly known as unfreezing, transition and freezing (Jex and Britt, 2008). The first step involves realization of the need for change, during the second step changes are implemented, and the third step involves reinforcement of the changes through freezing.
Lewin also came up with a theory on action model. This theory suggested that organizational development comes through the process of problem identification, hypothesis testing and development, and, finally, data analysis (Britt and Jex, 2008, ch.15). The theory is cyclical, thus it can be repeated a number of times during the entire organization change process.
Another important theory is the general system theory which discusses the significance of the external environments to the organization’s development process. The theory suggested that the organization usually takes something from the environment around it, transforms it and finally gives it back to the environment altered. The theory emphasizes the relationship that exists between the organization and its environment of operation.
Burke’s theory is another crucial theory of OD. It also discusses mattes to do with the external environment. It considers how mission, leadership, external environment, organization culture and individual performance usually work together. The theory concludes that all the above aspects impact one another in the OD process (Britt & Jex, 2008, Ch.15).
Conditions for successful organization change
Worley and Cummings (Organization development and change, 1995) come up with various factors that influence organizational change and make it a success. These factors include creation of a vision, development of political support, motivating change, sustaining momentum and managing the transition.
Motivating change involves the creation of readiness for changes in your clients, as well as developing measures to be used to overcome the resistance that is likely to arise. Creation of a vision calls for leaders to develop a clear vision which describes the accomplishment that are intended to be achieved by changes in the organization. The leadership has to ensure that it explains to the various stakeholders how the changes will improve the organization.
Development of political support is absolutely vital in the achievement of organizational change. The support from various political offices should be ensured, such as trade unions and government agencies. This will help avoid legal conflicts that may arise from organizational change process. The managing transition is also very important. The management has to come up with ways of managing change from the current state to the intended state. The leaders should ensure that the entire process is not affected by resistance, financial inadequacy and legal conflicts. It is up to the management to ensure that it takes into consideration all the issues that may arise from transition process and how to effectively manage them.