Organization Development – 2.2 Working with the organization’s dynamics

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2.2    Working with the Organization’s Dynamics

While building a strategy, the practitioner should keep in mind the following organizational dynamics or change requirements.

Consideration 1:  Felt needs or goals

The selection of specific interventions should be based on client responses regarding problems that are not being solved or goals that are not being reached.  Managers and organizations readily respond to proposals that address felt needs.

Consideration 2:  Support system

Of major importance in the success of an OD project is the practitioner’s initial identification of supportive forces in the organization and his or her subsequent commitment to working with those forces.  A project is seldom successful when an attempt is made to influence the total organization at once.

Consideration 3:  Chance for success

The entire OD effort, as well as each related activity, should hold a realistic chance for success.  This sounds obvious, but many projects are launched on the basis of little or no hope for success.  To change an organization, a series of early wins must be achieved.  The practitioner is seldom given a second chance if the first activity is not at least moderately successful.

Consideration 4:  Multiple entry

Organizations of any size have a tremendous capacity to withstand change.  When an organization experiences a short disturbance of the status quo as a result of an OD effort, it will naturally tend to settle back into its original patterns.  This problem of inertia can be dealt with through the use of multiple entry points.  Although care must be taken and planning must be deliberate, change in a larger organization is more likely to be accomplished if pressure is exerted on several different facets of its operation.

Consideration 5:  Critical mass

One of the purposes for using multiple entry points is to bring about a critical mass.  Just as a chain reaction builds sufficient force to produce a major result, so an organization is changed through the development of a strong and building effort.  A strategy must be built in such a way as to plan for, and cause, the occurrence of a critical mass.

Consideration 6:  Organization control

The chances for success in an OD effort are greater when the practitioner works with individuals or groups that have some autonomy or control over their own operations.

Consideration 7:  Appropriate levels of involvement

Careful consideration must be given to developing and providing for the appropriate involvement of managers and other individuals who will be affected by the proposed changes.  Attention must be centered on those who need to be active in decision making, those who need to be given information, and those who need to provide input for action and evaluation.

Consideration 8:  Communication at all levels

It is useful to develop plans for communicating intentions, goals, and progress to the entire organization.  In one major project in the social housing sector, a monthly, two-page update was given to all staff.  This update had a marked impact on reducing resistance to the project and opening doors for suggestions and input.

Consideration 9:  Determination of feasibility

Mechanisms must be established not only for letting key people know about OD plans, but also for enlisting the aid of these people in determining the feasibility of plans.  One of the biggest traps in building OD strategies is planning in a vacuum.

Consideration 10:  Linking with internal change agents

Most client organizations include staff who are responsible for organizational change and improvement.  A practitioner’s strategy is much more likely to succeed if s/he establishes ways to co-ordinate efforts with those of personnel such as designers, engineers, quality-control experts, financial analysts, etc.  Major organizational change is greatly enhanced by linking change teams from several disciplines or functions.

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

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