What’s New in OD: Exciting Trends and Practices


Author:  Nancy Zentis, Ph.D., CEO of Institute of OD

Most of you realize that the time has come to address the changes that are needed to keep OD current.  The old methods of collecting data, analyzing data, writing things on flip-chart paper and sending out reports are archaic and outdated.  Even the way teams work on projects and track deliverables needs updating.  Everyone wants new processes and tools to implement change that are quicker, more collaborative, and easier to use.

One new trend in OD is Dialogic OD, created by Gervase Bushe and Bob Marshak.  They have built a theory that details why different change methods, like Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space Technology, World Café, and Dynamic Facilitation work or don’t work, and clarify how the underlying practices can be effective.

Dialogic OD works by creating new conversations that disrupt old habits, biases and perceptions so that something new and better can emerge.  Bringing increased diversity into conversations, where creativity and innovation are valued and encouraged, motivates groups of people to propose and try new experiments that, when tested, can be leveraged into transformational change.

Another interesting concept is Design Thinking.  Design thinking is generally defined as an analytic and creative process that engages a person in opportunities to experiment, create and prototype models, gather feedback, and redesign.  Design thinking is a powerful tool that can be the foundation for driving a business’ brand, moving a business forward, or finding creative solutions to critical business/team problems.

Design thinking consists of four elements:

  1. Define the problem by gaining cross functional insight into each problem and using the tool, five whys – why, why, why, why, why, to drill down to the root cause of the problem.
  2. Create and consider many options – using tools such as brainstorming and affinity diagramming to identify possible creative solutions from many perspectives.
  3. Refine ideas by creating a safe environment that encourages growth and experimentation, allowing for the possibility of making mistakes to achieve extraordinary results. Repeat this process until the right solution emerges.
  4. Execute! Identify objectives and gain commitment to implement solutions.

Quite often, other unique ideas and strategies emerge.  At the end of stage four, the problem is solved or an opportunity is uncovered.

In the past, OD technologies were used for one-way communication, data collection, and individual mentoring or training.  Now we need a new generation of interventions.  The Internet, email, and Web conferencing tools have created the capacity for collaborating across time and space both within and between organizations.  Just as technology has transformed the organizational environment, it’s also transforming the field of Organization Development (OD).

Some of the new technology that is currently being used in the field of OD to help clients facilitate “whole system” collaboration and organizational change include:

  • Web Portal tools to promote increased organizational effectiveness, enable open communication and knowledge sharing and deliver multi-dimensional organizational change efforts
  • Project management tools such as Asana, Zoho Projects, Slack
  • Collaboration tools like Invision, Trello, Slack
  • Analytic tools like Google Forms, Atlas.ti, Survey Monkey
  • Quantitative, database assessment tools such as employee surveys and 360-degree feedback
  • Communications and teamwork, including document management and information sharing, online collaboration, community building, collaborative learning, and the sharing of best practices on a global scale
  • Management and employee development, including online and e-learning training, learning management tools, webcasts, blogs, youtube, social media, crowd sharing, mobile apps, etc.
  • Collaborative technologies such as portals, online discussion groups, real-time chat and webcasts (transmission of linear audio or video content over the Internet) have provided valuable capabilities that promote the organization development mission of whole system collaboration
  • Online discussion groups, weblogs where you can post questions or comments and find general information at a central online location. These types of forums are particularly well suited for the ongoing, system-wide communication required during large organizational change efforts

Current new technologies that extend beyond the way we used to correspond and collect data, manage projects, and share information is rapidly changing.  Now, organizations are seeking ways to share best practices on a global scale.  New emerging OD technologies are becoming an integral part of the dynamic organizational system to help clients lead and implement change.

If you are using technology as an OD professional, please share with us your tool and how it’s used.  Let’s keep this dialogue open.  Please join our Linkedin group:  Institute of OD, or our Facebook Page: Institute of OD.


Dr. Nancy Zentis is the Chief Strategist and CEO of Institute of OD, offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and OD Advanced Skills courses for ongoing learning.  She can be reached at info@instituteod.com.  For more information about our certification programs and short courses, please visit our website www.instituteod.com.

Interested in becoming certified as an OD Professional:

IOD offers online Organization Development Certification Programs to help participants gain skills to advance in their career in the field of OD.  If you are new to OD, you will benefit from the OD Process Consulting Certification Program (ODPC).  If you have been in the field for several years but lack formal OD training, the Organization Development Certification Program (ODCP) will provide you with the tools and skills needed to advance in the field of OD.




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