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Organizational Development - Essay Example

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Organizational Development

Two definitions that more aptly represent the thrust of organization development today are:
"Organization development is a system-wide application of behavioral science knowledge to the planned development and reinforcement of organizational strategies, structures, and processes for improving an organization's effectiveness." (Cummings et al, p.2)
An astute organization development practitioner would carefully evaluate the working systems with set targets to identify pitfalls and suggest holistic changes for improved effectiveness. One of the key components of organization development is change management. Change management is a complex system which involves judicious and intelligent application of a range of ideas from the fields of business, engineering, sociology, and psychology. As organizations face stiff competition, changes in the organizations become imperative for survival. It becomes more and more necessary for the organization to implement a robust change management system to help the organization grow and sustain and meet the challenges that it faces from within and without. A change management system in its broad outline may be regarded as a "structured process that will cause proposed changes to be reviewed for technical and business readiness in a consistent manner that can be relaxed or tightened to adjust to business needs and experiences." (Indiana University, 2009)
A robust change management practice would involve the convergence of two predominant fields of thought: the mechanical focus to change and the human focus on change. Till recently, a lot of companies had likened the different functions of their business to a mechanical clock made up of individual mechanical pieces which they could alter or change to suit a specific situation and produce the desired results. This change could be radical or gradual as was deemed necessary. The need for change management concepts was not realized till their projects faced serious hurdles to implementation or encountered stiff resistance. Change management has now come to mean "the process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of business change to achieve the required business outcome, and to realize that business change effectively within the social infrastructure of the workplace." (Change Management Learning Center, 1996-2008)
The foundation stone to the human side of change management was laid by William Bridges in his book named Transitions. (Ed Batista, 2008) Though he relates human behavior to change in a workplace only a few times in his book, this work brought a new perspective to change management and resulted in two schools of approach to business practice, measurement of success and perspectives of change: the engineer's approach or the mechanical approach and the psychologist's approach. The table below summarizes the major differences in the two approaches:

Processes, systems, structure
Business practices
BPR, TQM, ISO 9000, Quality
Human resources, OD
Starting point
Business issues or opportunities
Personal change, employee resistance (or potential for resistance)
Measure of success
Business performance, financial and statistical metrics
Job satisfaction, turnover, productivity loss
Perspective on change
"Shoot the stragglers, carry ...Show more


Organization Development was once defined as "Organization Development is an effort planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization's 'processes,' using behavioral-science knowledge." (cited in Free Management Library, 1997-2008)
Author : graciehuels
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