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Organizational Development & Change

I recently attended a presentation by Robert J. Marshak, PhD, titled Organization Development & Change: Views of the Past, Present and Future. Delivering potent messages in his very eloquent style, he explained that many professionals overlook the nuance between Organization Development and Change Management. Marshak's presentation was timely, refreshing and thoughtful, and some of his conclusions hit home for me and other consultants in my group.
He further defined each this way:

-- Change Management - Engineering organizations for economic gain
-- Organization Development - Facilitating human development for social and organizational gain

I find Change Management to be over used and the new buzz phrase for consultants replacing words like "leverage" and phrases like "best practices." It’s used by every consulting company with a Webpage and hyperlink.

Engineering and re-engineering processes produce finite starting and finishing points. Basic change management is an event much like any implementation that starts and finishes. A frequent struggle is writing the sustainability plan and how to communicate it to senior leadership. Few great metrics exist to mete out effectiveness of short-term or long-term performance related to the change. Execution can be done quickly by whipping up some new processes, adding a few bodies here and subtracting a few there, printing a new org chart and abracadabra -- change!

Organization development (OD) isn’t as catchy. OD is broader and more comprehensive though, and places more value on the humanistic approach versus the economic approach of change management. There is no finite beginning or ending. The focus is on developing individuals within the organization and defining the culture through executive-led "conversations" and "stories." Marshak said, "Organization development is not sustaining change, but sustaining people in change."

OD is more important than ever. First, many predict the unemployment rate to remain high for years to come. Some say 8 percent plus is the new normal. Organizations that focus on developing people over process will motivate their teams and realize the productivity gains.

Second, I compare social media and its impact on the workplace to the introduction of Microsoft to the workplace. This phenomenon will explode in the coming years, and social media is inherently humanistic. Organizations have a choice between ignoring social media and figuring out how to strategically integrate it within a holistic organization development plan.

Although Marshak's presentation covered many other thoughtful topics, and even change in a much more scholarly fashion than I share here, I now have a better appreciation for the nuances of change.

Matt Pytosh is a partnering consultant at Impact 21 Group.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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