Organizational Development

By Helen V. Griffith

Industry professionals seem to agree that Organizational Development (OD) and Organizational Effectiveness (OE) are linked terms used interchangeably with their program goals and objectives being one in the same. Organizational Development includes the notion that applying behavioral science knowledge is necessary in order to lead to organization effectiveness (Compass, Ruler, & Base, 2004). Organizational Development is one such pathway to organizational effectiveness. Therefore, an organization or department seeking a non-training intervention in order to improve performance, OD is a viable option.

"OD, as a field, began with a clear value bias: helping organizations to be effective and healthy places in which to work", according to Paula Griffin in her interim report on the values in practice in OD (Griffin & Minors, 2004). OD is a values-based approach to systems change in organizations and communities. It strives to build the capacity to achieve and sustain a new desired state that benefits the organization or community (Compass et al., 2004).

OD is grounded in a set of core values and principles that guide behavior and actions. Respect, collaboration, authenticity, self-awareness, and empowerment are the key values-based principles that guide their practice.

OD is used to intervene in an organizational or community process to help bring about positive change and help the client work toward their desired goals.

One such organization, The Centre for Organizational Effectiveness, whose mission is to provide management and organization development, uses the skill of their trained professionals to assess an organization's needs and guide them to the appropriate technique to result in a positive change. The value of The Centre's work rests in the improved performance of the organization or department. Many times the outcome results are measurable and offer empirical evidence that the organization is better off after the intervention of a skilled OD professional.

In a documentary funded by a grant from the Federal Government in collaboration with Stanford University Research Institute, entitled Total Performance Management, empirical evidence is presented on the effectiveness of an Organization Development intervention. Within the City of San Diego's Streets Division, OD professionals were tasked to evaluate the department in an effort to improve productivity and employee job satisfaction. OD professionals collected the data necessary for a gap analysis and reported the findings to management, since Organization Development interventions must always be driven by analysis.

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Based on the findings conducted for the gap analysis, OD professionals made recommendations to management for a selection of tailored, non-training interventions. Included in the findings were pre-intervention results of employee attitude data along with data on employee turnover. The Centre then crafted and facilitated workshops in the following areas, team building, conflict resolution, and optimum colleague interaction, to name a few. With the assistance of the OD professionals, each employee within the division developed a personal career action plan for the purposes of advancing their career and improving job satisfaction.

Once the interventions were completed, after having utilized the pre- and post-data, the Stanford University Research Institute conducted a formal evaluation and validated the effectiveness of The Centre's work. Overall, productivity improved along with employee morale.

According to The Centre's co-director, Dr. Trudy Sopp, organization development professionals seek to identify the organization's problems, and seek to identify and develop solutions. For example, employees may be clear on their organizations goals and vision but may lack the necessary equipment to adequately carry out the vision. OD professionals will then gather data that will be analyzed to drive the solution. She added,

"Not all organizations require training. Training allows for new skills, new tools, and new strategies. What training does not provide is: a change in values, ideas, or roles. Also, training interventions will not solve a loss in morale or trust issues. Non-training interventions must be crafted to provide an effective solution" (Sopp, 2004).

OD is only as effective as the trained professionals, cautions Dr. Sopp. "The skill of the professional can leave an organization in better condition or unfortunately, in a less desirable state than before the intervention was implemented" (Sopp, 2004).


Compass, Ruler, & Base. (2004). OD Principles of Practice. Retrieved February 1, 2004, 2004, from

Griffin, P., & Minors, A. (2004). Values in Practice in Organization Development - An Interim report. Retrieved January 29, 2004, 2004, from

Sopp, T. (2004). Interview on Organization Development.

Author Note


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