OD….What’s that?

When people I meet ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I’m an OD practitioner, the commonest question is “What’s that???!!??”

I don’t blame them. Many OD folks wouldn’t be able to give you a concise 2 minute elevator talk on what Organization Development means!

Image via Wikipedia

And I thought the best way to begin this blog would be for me to take this up. RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING! And then our conversations forward, can be based on each of the sub-topics that are contained here. Hope that works out! I’m taking this as it comes, and unlike an author, I am not building the beginning, middle and end, so I don’t have a framework going forward. I believe this will evolve, and that I will learn as much as anyone else as this dialog unfolds.

Remember, if you like what you read, please suggest this to other people. I have a chosen goal this year, to help OD professionals the world over get better at what they do. And I aim to do this by facilitating interesting dialog on this blog. And the more minds we have engaged here, the more we will all benefit from the collective, shared knowledge-pool. So here goes:

In the beginning was the wheel…. and from there, everything evolved! Isn’t that right?

Pictured below, is the OD Wheel, copyrighted by Linkage Learning of the USA, who run probably the best programs on Organization Development and Leadership Development that you can find.

Organizational Design Wheel

When I first saw this wheel, about 6-7 odd years ago, it was like a breath of fresh air. It clarified so simply, all that an OD professional must focus on.

  • Does the Organization have a Strategy in place?
  • Is the Structure designed to support that Strategy?
  • Are the appropriate cultural drivers for the Strategy in place?
  • Does the Leadership team have the capabilities required in order to build/sustain the Culture and deliver the Strategy?
  • Does the organization have the appropriate Systems and Processes to control, measure, and indicate progress towards the Strategy?
  • Are the Performance Measures and Rewards aligned to the Strategic objectives?

So what emerges is the following, as an OD professional you are tasked with the following:

  • Ensuring Direction
  • Ensuring Resources and Support tools/Processes for heading in that direction
  • Ensuring the Right People are on board and are empowered
  • Ensuring there is a system of measurement and reward in place
  • And ensuring that the appropriate culture is in place

Easy? Not at all! Which is why OD professionals are in demand. No, let me correct that, which is why GOOD OD professionals are in high demand.

I’m glad you subscribed to this blog. And I hope this first post triggers your thinking and brings greater clarity to what can be an obscurely explained topic.

Once you have digested this, in the spirit of collaborative learning, I would like you to think about the following and share your thoughts via comments on this Blogpost:

1. What is your understanding of OD. What is OD?

2. If the above clearly outlines the role of an OD Professional, what then are:

  • Key Competencies of an OD professional?
  • What are the key areas of Knowledge an OD professional must possess?
  • What differentiates an effective OD professional from an ineffective OD professional?
Capabilities value contribution to strategy
Image via Wikipedia

I look forward to your contribution and your thoughts. Thanks!

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About gurprrietsiingh

CxO-Level Executive Coach Change consultant. Tai Chi learner Beer Lover Aspirational Parent and Partner Sci Fi reader Mistake Maker Challenger
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15 Responses to OD….What’s that?

  1. Abhishek says:

    Competencies in no particular order:

    Strong business sense: understanding of business drivers, systems innovation, systems thinking, mission orientation
    Leadership: Develops trust, understands individual and group behaviour, decisiveness, risk-taking, collaborator, passionate communicator
    Strong in HR systems: Aligns people processes & business needs, customer orientation

  2. Neha says:

    Thank you for the very simple words and an even simpler, comprehensible start!

  3. Gautam says:

    Personally I feel OD is a skill that is needed whenever “human systems” get impacted – either by other “human systems” (teams, leadership) or by “non-human systems” (structures, strategy, systems) – and to facilitate the process.

    Biggest skills needed: Empathy, Facilitation, Business Acumen

  4. gyan says:

    Gurprriet, fabulous to read. A bias towards short term fixes makes OD the most misunderstood tool in an organisations toolbox. Bravo on getting this blog off the ground. It could be game changing for those in your ever expanding network.

    • gurprrietsiingh says:

      You’re so right Gyan. In my experience, a lot of OD interventions are like planting an Oak Tree. You plant the seed knowing that it will take 10 years to reach maturity. A lot like education.

      These new age leaders who want to know ROI before we begin such a project, don’t get it. I always ask them to give me the RoI on their 12 years’ basic education, that kind of wakes them up!

      An OD man who doesn’t push back against this ROI attitude, can get boxed into a tight place!

  5. Santosh says:

    Good intentions and good post
    Will keep following

  6. Gurpriet,
    Great start and trigger to our thinking.
    Keep blogging.

  7. anish says:

    Nice. Hope to read thru again and comment. Will bookmark. All the best.
    IMHO – some key skills: systems thinking, end to end understanding of the biz, brutal honesty

  8. Neetubala says:

    Gurprriet, Thanks for sharing that insightful OD wheel.As I personally find OD one of my interest area, here are my views in detail.

    What is your understanding of OD? What is OD?
    As I understand, OD is basically a planned process used to enhance both the effectiveness of an organization and the well-being of its members through planned interventions and applying behavioral science knowledge. So behavioral science knowledge is important here in view of the fact that to drive any change successfully in an organization it is imperative that it’s human capital is motivated enough to accept the identified change/s as desired by the organization/OD Practitioner. It is the human capital which defines organizational behavior for any organization, so ensuring “buy-in” from its employees is key to the successful OD interventions.

     Key Competencies of an OD professional?
    Few Competencies that instantly come to my mind are:
    1. Impact – Creating a good first impression, commanding attention and respect, showing an air of confidence.
    2.Emotional Intelligence – When we talk about “applying behavioral science knowledge” Emotional Intelligence is the core competency OD professional must possess. EI will help an OD professional to sense the challenges in an organization perceiving rightly the concerns and challenge of its employees. So EI gives an effortless insight into psyche of people and hence the teams and groups within an organization. As said “Humans are not the creatures of logic but emotions”.
    3.Building Positive Working Relationships and Trust – Developing and using collaborative relationships to facilitate the accomplishment of work goals. Interacting with others in a way that gives them confidence in one’s intentions and those of the organization.
    4. Mentoring & Coaching – Providing timely guidance and feedback to help others strengthen specific knowledge/skill areas needed to accomplish a task or solve a problem.
    5.Influencing and Gaining Commitment – Using appropriate interpersonal styles and techniques to gain acceptance of ideas or plans; modifying one’s own behavior to accommodate tasks, situations, and individuals involved.
    6. Managing Conflict – Dealing effectively with others in an antagonistic situation; using appropriate inter-personal styles and methods to reduce tension or conflict between two or more people.
    7. Strategic Decision Making – Obtaining information and identifying key issues and relationships relevant to achieving a long-range goal or vision; committing to a course of action to accomplish a long-range goal or vision after developing alternatives based on logical assumptions, facts, available resources, constraints, and organizational values.

    What are the key areas of Knowledge an OD professional must possess?
    •End to end Understanding of Business
    •Organizational Behavior and Dynamics
    •Project Management, CRM and the Challenges involved

    What differentiates an effective OD professional from an ineffective OD professional?
    I believe, an effective OD professional is the one who is an influential leader and capable of “changing masses into classes” which is to say that employees in the organization follow him/her willingly to be a part of the change to be driven having understood “how change will bring in learning and happiness for them”.


    • gurprrietsiingh says:


      Excellent input, and I’ve taken the liberty of pasting it as is into the next post on the same subject.

      I was very impressed to see your first point – Impact! In my experience it has counted for a lot. The ability to have an impact within the first 180 seconds of meeting actually defines how much influence you would be able to have in that engagement. Thanks for that one, it was not in my original list!

  9. Neetubala says:

    Thanks Gurprriet, All my pleasure!

  10. Pingback: The new competence for organizational survival « Life, Leadership and Change

  11. Pingback: What is OD? | HR india

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