Organization development is a deliberately planned effort to increase an organization’s effectiveness. One way to look at Organizational Development (OD) is to compare it to exercising: it’s body building for the organization.
Athletes, even in the best of shape, follow a strict exercise regime. They keep their body fit for the long run. And non-athlete, health-conscious adults exercise and eat well as a preventative measure. Organizations need to adopt this same kind of thinking.
Organizations need to weather economic stresses and unexpected infirmity like financial recession, employee attrition, budget cuts and other elements that could pose a threat to an organization. Strong organizations develop their people—invigorating them to perform most effectively. Employee development, management training and succession planning all focus on an organization’s core, their people—their most vital internal assets.
Some would argue that OD is not just about training, human resource or team development. Theorists and OD practitioners generally look at the structure of a current organization to ensure it is positioned to absorb disruptive forces and changing market environments. They focus on the processes and systems that are inextricably linked to the people inside and outside of the organization. The organization is a complex system of financial, research and development, marketing, sales and customer service operations that need to function well together.
People and process are both important, just like diet and exercise. The best-run organization assesses its core strength, vitality, pulse and temperature on a regular basis. Annual analyses and reviews are the annual physical. The doctor’s orders maintain organizational health and wellness.
Sometimes, it’s hard to get to the gym—especially when we are so busy with the challenges of our daily business. But that is when we need it the most. A healthy body will be stronger and more resistant to stress. As leaders, we need to keep our organizations strong to compete effectively.
When was your last check-up? How recently did you evaluate internal systems and processes? How are your employee and customer satisfaction ratings? What structures need to be revitalized to ensure their ability to manage change? Maybe now is a good time to take your organization’s pulse to ensure it achieves its full potential.