How Organization Development Differs from Other Change Models

How Organization Development Differs from Other Change Models


How Organization Development Differs from Other Change Models

Organization Development (OD) is a system-wide application of scientific technology and processes used to plan, develop, and align organization strategies, structures, and processes to improve the effectiveness of an organization.

There are four important characteristics of change based on OD principles:

1. A planned effort
2. Organization-wide
3. Managed from the top
4. Focused on increasing organization effectiveness and health

According to Warren Bennis, OD is a complex strategy that is intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of organizations so that these organizations can better adapt to new technologies, markets, and challenges.

Warner Burke emphasizes that OD is not just “anything done to better an organization”– it is a particular kind of change process designed to bring about a particular kind of end result. OD involves organizational reflection, system improvement, planning, and self-analysis.

In other words, OD is a planned change initiative to enable an organization successfully grow (or change) using a systems approach. This systems learning approach guides the change and freezes the change patterns.

The Role of Human Resources, OD & Training as Consultants

It is important to consult with businesses or departments for improving effectiveness, assessing their exact needs, collecting and analyzing data, and partnering with senior leaders to develop and implement strategic planned change efforts that link goals, skills, and processes to the overall mission, vision, values and strategy of the organization.

The client and consultant (internal or external) partner to collect data (via structured methods- interviews, focus groups, surveys), define gaps and priorities, and determine a suitable course of action.

OD Process Consulting differs from traditional consulting because client involvement is encouraged throughout the entire process. The ways in which people communicate and work together are addressed in addition to technical or procedural issues that need resolution.

OD helps the organization develop a culture of feedback, employee empowerment and involvement across the organization, uses statistic evidence to identify gaps and priorities, and develops a healthy environment that is receptive to implementing change.

How Does OD Differ From Training?

OD involves analyzing the entire organization: strategy, culture, structure, systems, people, processes, and planning.
Training design uses a similar approach to OD (ADDIE model – Assess, Develop, Design, Implement, and Evaluate) but it is usually focused on people/ behaviors/ performance components. It is difficult to tie training outcomes to strategic goals and often training not measured effectively or reinforced properly to determine the change or impact.

What is Critical in Organizational Development (OD) Interventions?

With any successful OD project you must look at the whole organization – people, systems and the culture. You will need to review the following:

1.    The mission/ goals of the organization
2.    The value of the organization
3.    The current management style
4.    Current and desired organizational culture

How Do We Assess the Needs of the Organization?

Using any holistic OD diagnostic tool, consultants (internal or external) can make diagnoses that will help clients in their planning and decision-making.
Begin by identifying:
·         The strengths and weaknesses (SWOT) of the organization as a whole.
·         The future needs of the organization.
·         The gap between the two and the required action plan.
·         The culture of the organization (current and required)
·         The strengths and weaknesses in the current competencies of the key people in your organization.
·         The future competencies needed by the organization, and the gap between the two.

Once you’ve identified specific gaps, you can design special programs to meet the needs. These needs must be identified in the context of the current organizational culture and the culture desired in the future. Failure to take into account the culture of an organization, is often the cause of failure in organizational change.

Do you have any thoughts on how Organization Development is different from other change models? We look forward to hearing your views on this topic.

Author: Nancy Zentis, Ph.D. CEO and Founder, Institute of Organization Development. Nancy can be reached at

The Institute of Organization Development provides online Certification Programs on Organization Development, OD Process Consulting, Talent Management, Executive Coaching, and Leadership Development.

For more information, please contact us at or call 954-341-2522


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