What is OD (Organization Development) | OD Network Japan

What is OD (Organization Development)

OD Features

1. Diversity of Themes and Techniques

Since the central theme OD (Organizational Development) is innovation, it covers quite a large area from theoretical study to practical techniques. Due to the fact that organizations facing change are diverse, the method of application – which depends on the accumulation of behavioral science – is varied, and the combination of these two entities can result in a myriad number of possibilities for change.

As an example case where the client and the transformation practitioners (consultants both inside and outside the organization) cooperate to bring innovation, from the corresponding relationship between the consultant’s method for innovation and the conditions the client is facing head-on, an effective method is selected and applied.

Since we are working to change people we are not looking for a universal answer. We allow our clients to experience rationally and emotionally, the process for change by trial and error, and the central issue for OD is to create the conditions where the efforts for change are spontaneous. It is for this reason that consultants will use different methods even for the same conditions and the same consultant may use different methods depending on the conditions.

2. How we position our research range

It may be thought that OD is merely the accumulation of practical techniques and change status.
However, many humanities and social science researchers repeatedly carried out research and investigations to find a universal law lurking in social phenomena for the purpose of improving change practice. In order to make practical change a possibility, many OD practitioners and researchers had historically tried to organize effective methods for change based on underlying rules for the stages of what appear to be chaotic change people undergo after the end of World War II. The history of OD development is the culmination of these efforts and humanities and social science research is one aspect of it.

3. Basic Theory of OD

Theoretical research is the base of OD, so it involves a wide range of research and practices such as the self-personality of sociology and social psychology, cognition, attitudes, and socialization. Adult learning, motivation of management organization theory, leadership, and cross-cultural management are also included. Also, due to the advances in communication technology and the development of brain physiology, we strive to deepen our relationship with the dialogue and emotions of the population, people and organizations.

4. Surprising theoretical relevancies

Even if you have never heard the term ‘Organizational Development’ (OD) , you most certainly have been introduced to it partly from a different perspective. For example, ‘World Café ‘and ‘Future Conference’ are example of the research results of ‘Large Group Intervention’ of Owen et al.

Also, ‘Workplace Learning’ (adult learning at the workplace) which was proposed by ASTD, is the based on the systemization of ‘andragogy’, a human development theory originally proposed by Knowles. In the area of adult learning, the ‘Learning Organization’ proposed by Peter Senge from MIT (et al.), has the organic sustainable transformation of the entire system as a theoretical construct. Kurt Lewin’s years of similar research regarding applied theory and practical research work at MIT over 60 years ago, is also included as part of OD.

Although historically, ‘action learning’ usually meant ‘manual learning’, Relin (et al.) from Northwestern University achieved results by experiencing change by means of concrete project management. In addition to this, the viewpoint of positive research (Appreciative Inquiry), positive organizational theory, positive psychology, positive organizational behavior theory, support (helping), from Case Western Reserve University, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Nebraska, MIT, etc., has already been introduced.
Although this may sound surprising but OD, is based on this kind of applied and theoretical research.

5. What is OD?

As per Richard Beckhard’s (1969) comprehensive definition, OD is based on “the planned intervention and application of the process for behavioral science by top management for the purpose of increasing the effectiveness and in the health of the organization.”
Definition of OD Network (US)

Although OD is ‘value-leading’ in order to bring about a chain-reaction of change to communities and organizations, it is a dynamic approach. It is the efforts to build knowledge for bringing continuous change to achieve the conditions which organizations, communities, and society are hoping for.

6. Principles which support the OD Network’s activities

Just as various organizations have a code of conduct and philosophy that clarifies what their reasons for existing are, and that they will contribute to society, the OD Network also has a Code of Conduct.

6-1 Practice Principal:

OD practice is the activities that reach out specifically to human behavior based on their own values and principles.
The Organizational Development (OD) is where the change agent (consultant) and the client develop the community, with the aim for a better existence while learning together.
At the same time, the consultant regularly take part in the communities to learn about new theoretical research and practical approaches at seminars held by the OD Network, universities, and companies for the purpose of applying more effective change with the client.
In other words, consultants and clients are a ‘community’ that serve a social function of applying theoretical research for changing people. The OD Network is a ‘community’ carry-out social functions that link consultants through learning, and by linking foundational OD values, both ‘communities’, theoretical research is supported by practical values.

6-2 Operation principle of the OD Network
  • OD is a practice that continues to progress.
  • OD practitioners provide direction in regards to the abilities and skills necessary for the future
  • OD practitioners serve as references for evaluating their own abilities and techniques
  • OD researchers serve as a basis for thoughts regarding new research agendas
  • The client shows one criteria for evaluating the OD practitioners
6-3 OD Network members’ shared values
  • respect for each other
  • practitioners and clients work together in hands-on activities
  • growth and development of the client is true and correct
  • never-ending learning as a specialist to distinctively exist
  • encouraging the independence of the client
  • application of theory backed by research
  • action research where the cycle of self-examination, assessment and practical search is repeated
  • focus more on practical process than the practical content and results
  • Practical change based on multi-faceted data
  • Client focus
  • increase the effectiveness and health to be self-sustaining
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