Critical Role of the OD Change Agent During Crises


Our role as Organizational Development (OD) professionals has never been more critical to organizations and leaders as they begin to plan for recovery from the COVID-19 Virus.  As OD professionals we can offer accelerated, proven solutions to help lead individuals, teams, and leaders through the process of change.  However, our success depends on how effectively we can influence leaders as business partners to ensure internal OD consultants are fully utilized inside the organization.

As a result of the recent pandemic, we are experiencing what Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus call a VUCA state – a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, & Ambiguous state, or as some say- A Wild and Crazy Time.  Leaders need to step up and lead in ways no one has never experienced in our lifetime.  This crisis will go down in history as the most devastating event ever experienced by our society.

Many questions need to be answered: How will leaders restart the business and keep employees and customers safe from exposure to the coronavirus?  How will organizations attract new talent? What will they do to gain back consumer confidence and trust?   What will the culture look like after we return to the workplace? How will employees be rehired, re-engaged, and motivated?  How will we begin to rebuild our businesses, and how will they deal with so many issues at one time?

As OD professionals, our role as a change agent is needed more critically than ever. Our role is to step up to help leaders create a plan for change and identify actions to restart their business.  As business partners, OD professionals guide and support senior leaders through the change process and help them assess needs, gain commitment, encourage collaboration, and implement actions to solve critical business challenges.

Our background in the field of behavioral science and change management makes us perfect candidates to lead senior leaders through this global change.  OD professionals have the skills to build relationships, contract for commitment, gain support from leaders, gain commitment and buy-in from stakeholders, facilitate planning meetings, encourage collaboration, conduct interviews, and facilitate focus groups to collect feedback, analyze and sort the data.  We also identify priorities, generate innovative solutions, link goals and outcomes to business strategies, provide team learning, and provide scientific tools to effectively implementing change.

The OD professional can support organizations in many beneficial ways:

  1. Build the value of organizational development by moving the emphasis from HR and Training to role as a Change Agent and business partner to Senior Leaders.
  2. Position OD professionals internally as strategic organizational partners who understand the business and can contribute to systemic changes.
  3. Recognize their expertise with human capital as the variable with the most impact on competitive advantage (knowledge management).
  4. Focus on deliverables and project management.
  5. Identify and evaluate the return on investment (ROI) as a result of OD business solutions.

The time has come, and the time is now!  Rely on your Organization Development team to help you and your team effectively and successfully recover from this VUCA crisis.  You may not know how OD can help however most leading organizations recognize the value OD brings.  Using a proven scientific approach, they work with you as a partner to provide guidance and support to accomplish the actions needed to lead change.

Here are some of the OD competencies that will benefit your organization during the current pandemic and during the rebuilding of your organization:

Strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, organization design and redesign, organization structure, leading change management, cultural change, organization assessment, consulting, coaching, performance management, developing interventions, conflict management, strategic planning, needs assessment, data collection, data analysis, presenting data, action planning and implementation, process improvement, problem-solving, influencing and negotiation skills, decision making, team building, talent management, leadership development, socio-technical design, employee engagement, job design/competency alignment, communication strategies, measurement and evaluation techniques, talent management, human performance technology, systems design, reward and recognition systems, training and development, facilitating effective meetings, developing proposals and contracting, project management.

If you would like more information regarding our OD Certification Programs, please contact us at

Author:  Nancy L. Zentis, Ph.D., CEO of Institute of Organization Development, offering online OD Certification Programs.  She can be reached at

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