Organizational Development’s Purpose and Coherence modern outlook. Introduction – A review of traditional and “The only constant is change”- Heraclites, 6th century B. C. , Greek philosopher. Organizational development has seen dramatic changes from earlier times till now. It has seen different phases in its Journey that started from sass’s and is continuing till now. It has been through the phase when it was considered a movement and also the phase when it became unwanted in the organization.
ODD has struggled hard to keep its significance alive in organizations and answer back to people raising questions to its effectiveness. But this struggle of ODD to increase its effectiveness by incorporating many other values to the original values, had given it a completely different look than what it was at the time of its birth. These changes and improvements have given a challenge to researchers to recognize ODD. This has also put a big question in front of all that “Has ODD lost its sense of purpose and coherence? In this essay, firstly different arguments made by researchers about Odd’s origin, its values, how and why it changed and what it is now will be presented. This will be followed by a discussion that will answer the question about Odd’s purpose and coherence and finally, a conclusion will be drawn on the basis of the discussions done. Literature review Odd’s history roots back to sass’s, when few of its values were used without the “ID” label attached to it (Greener and Cummings, 2004).
Cummings and Worker (2001) believe that ODD emerged from five major background- laboratory training, Action research/survey feedback, participative management, quality of work life and strategic change, the last two being very new concepts of ODD. However, the fundamental concept of ODD is based on Kurt Linen’s work of planned change (Burners, 2009). Many researchers and practitioners have continuously contributed to ODD practices to give it new dimensions. However, most of the work could be related to Kurt Linen’s Action Research Model, the three step model and phases of planned change model (Burners, 1996).
While some scholars pursued a micro-psychological approach, others went in a macro-organizational direction and added values to ODD like achievement of self actualization, openness, personal recognition, less dogmatic approach to psychotherapy, organization wide participation of individuals and leadership which they thought will lead to organizational effectiveness (Greener and Cummings, 2004). The continuous contribution to the researchers and practitioners gave rise to traditional ODD values by which it tried to address the issue of stagnation and resistance to change, its causes and how resistance can be overcome (Workman, 2010).
Operas and Bradford (2004) have stated that the traditional ODD model believed that physiologically healthier people will work better leading to a more effective and successful organization and therefore, ODD tried to make people more self competent, more self aware, less defensive, accept feedback, listen better, more empathetic, share power, thereby helping people work better in groups, find out better solutions and do better decision making.
These changes in people were generally done by the change agents who used to follow a process that involves diagnosis of the problem, action, evaluation and further action and evaluation and self sustaining of the change in collaboration with the organization (Burners, 1996). Thus, Backyard (1969) fines that ODD is an effort l)planned ,2)organization-wide and 3)managed from the top, to 4) increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization’s “processes” using behavioral science knowledge. “By the sass’s and sass’s ODD became self confident and dynamic” (Grieves, 2000, p. 345).
However, the growing enthusiasm of ODD didn’t last long and during the late sass’s and sass’s ODD became a bad word in many companies and continues to be the same now also (Greener and Cummings, 2004). Operas and Bradford (2004) support this by saying ODD groups in organization did not reduce a lot of lasting changes that people could point out. Research says that ODD does not exist in 9% of the organizations and they use alternative terms like organizational effectiveness (Wackiest and Church, n. D. ). The question that arises is what happened to ODD in late sass’s and sass’s that it started losing its significance.
In late sass’s there were many criticisms made to ODD values. Greener and Cummings (2004) have pointed some of them like ODD values saw only human side I. E. Changing the individual and group behavior and overlooked Organization’s strategy, control and structure. It also overemphasized on interpersonal values like openness and trust to change the informal culture of the organization on the expenses of effectiveness of the organization and tried to apply team work and openness to organizations that did not require so much of these values for its effective performance (Greener and Cummings 2004).
In addition to these, Burners (1996) says that ODD did not look towards the political aspects. Furthermore, it did not analyze the compatibility of behavioral change with the strategy and culture of the organization (Greener and Cummings, 2004). These views have been complemented by Burners (1996, p. 86) who says “it assumed that one type of approach to change is suitable for all organizations, all situations and all time. ” Adding to this, Operas and Bradford (2004) say that the change agents became like child with ODD as a hammer and who saw every problem as a nail and tried to fix it with the hammer.
Still the question stays – If these were the issues then why was ODD a success in sass’s and why not now? Operas and Bradford (2004) point out that Organization to 1 s nave transformed themselves trot stable to unstable organizations with more mergers, acquisitions and globalization. The continuous hang in economic conditions, new technology and change in workforce are placing high demands on the organizations to change accordingly (Greener and Cummings, 2004).
To meet the demands placed, organizations can make their suppliers their partners, customers their competitors, employees can become customers, suppliers or competitors, making the business environment highly complex (Burners, 1996). In this complex environment, it is also important for ODD to think that “People change their behavior as a result of changes in the environment in which they work” (Operas and Bradford 2004, p. 395). Neumann et al. 1999) believes that ODD practitioners have to think of structural changes (e. G. Organizational design) also. However, the change agents without realizing this, continued the same way of using the traditional ODD values to solve the problems of present organizations which were a lot different from those of sass’s and hence, the results were not achieved (Operas and Bradford, 2004). To address the critics and to become effective in present organizations, a group of ODD practitioners emerged known as adapters who changed their thinking about how to intervene in an organization (Greener and Cummings, 2004).
They used the emergent approach of ODD that took a broader understanding of problems and practice of managing change within a complex environment and observed that successful change is less dependent on detailed plans in a complex environment (Burners, 1996). Moreover, in turbulent times consultants should use a model of change that is situational and that indicates how to vary change strategies to achieve ‘optimum fit’ with the changing environment (Burners, 1996). Furthermore, the change agents have to have more practical and theoretical insight to know what can be actually changed by their intervention (Institutors and Simian, 2010).
Therefore, the consultants are no more using the same old ODD models which were more of a step by step approach, rather they are utilizing their own experiences of knowing what techniques will work in what situations depending on the culture and strategy of the organization (Bogged, 2002). The adaptive ODD practitioners started focusing on strategy, structure, work design, human resource practices and organization learning by which they could cope up with the organizational uncertainty (Burners, 1996).
Newer ODD started utilizing reengineering efforts to make different tools available to employees for continuous improvement, use lean and flexible structure that enabled the organization to respond to changing condition (Greener and Cummings, 2004). But, many old ODD practitioners feel that to be relevant to real business issues like downsizing etc, ODD have neglected many fundamental values of its field that are integral to community like the organization-individual interface, the development of people, trust, inter- organizational relations etc (Burke, 1997).
To make the changes effective, consultants also looked at the financial, political, technical and other factors affecting the business environment (Bradford and Burke, 2004). Thus values of business efficiency, expediency and short term gain have overridden original ODD values of involvement, trust and openness (Greener and Cummings, 2004). Burners (2009) adds that for ODD to maintain its relevance, it had to shift to an organization-wide transformation approach trot a group-based planned approach, thereby moving away trot its core humanist and democratic values.
Greener and Cummings (2004), Operas and Bradford (2004) and Bradford and Burke (2004) feel that a broader view of changing organization, making the change open ended and using various other change sequences along with ODD for business effectiveness has today changed ODD completely and made the boundaries of ODD complex and blurred, thereby putting a serious question of what ODD is today? ODD now lacks a central, agreed upon theory of change or even approach to change now (Bradford and Burke, 2004).
Operas and Bradford (2004) although agree to the fact that the values of ODD are important but say that ODD is irrelevant now as he believes “ODD is everything so ODD is nothing”. ODD, to address all the problems of the organization has added a lot to its boundaries and become irrelevant (Operas and Bradford, 2004). However, ODD has high potential to look for negotiation, mediation and conflict management issues to create a humane, productive and sustainable enterprises in 21st century (Burke,1997; Wringers et al. 2007).
But, for this ODD has to stop weakening its discipline and has to define its boundary soon (Bradford and Burke, 2004; Leverages, 2010). Discussions From the literature review it can be observed that traditional ODD had very specific values which were more based on humanist and democratic values and had a planned way of approach. It was based on openness, trust, people having good legislations etc. Thus, the change agents thought how to change people’s behavior in a planned way so that they don’t resist to the changes, become satisfied, work better both as individual and in group and hence organizational effectiveness will be achieved.
Also as Burners (2009) points out change approach was limited to the group and not the organization as a whole. But, this could not be effective in today’s organizations. With globalization, mergers and acquisitions the business environment has become very unstable, uncertain and the relationships have become very complex. The consultants need to understand the business environment and the situation before thinking of any intervention.
The intervention done for a problem in Organization A might not be successful for the same problem in organization B because of cultural differences, internal and external politics and differences in the organization’s overall strategy. But, the traditional ODD did not take into account all these factors and tried to address all the problems of the organization by changing individual and group behavior, overlooking the other aspects like strategy, politics, and culture of the organizations. Therefore, traditional ODD could no longer be successful.
These problems led the ODD consultants to make it flexible rather than a planned approach and organization wide approach rather than a group approach. They started to develop interventions that would suit the culture, the structure and the strategy of the organizations. They also started using approaches like downsizing and reengineering which have values strikingly different than that of the traditional ODD values. As Greener and Cummings (2004) state that business efficiency and snort term gains (business profits) became more important Han Odd’s core values of trust, involvement etc.
Moreover traditional ODD was people biased while the new ODD is more inclined towards the strategic broader view of the organization and thus cannot maintain those values which were more human based (people oriented). Thus new ODD practitioners in the thirst of making ODD self sufficient to solve all the problems of the present organizations have constantly increased it’s boundary to make it a organization wide approach and had made ODD to travel in a direction which is strikingly different from its original direction.
This has put a fear that ODD might come too point where no one will recognize it and it will be also hard for ODD to come back to its starting point. Conclusion ODD is no more specific about its values and is no more a planned way of approach. It has transformed itself from a rigid approach to a flexible approach. It is no more people biased rather it has incorporated many other aspects of the business environment to be successful in solving the issues that the organizations are facing.
In this process of designing the interventions based on the strategy of the organization, it has not only lost its traditional values, its original purpose and coherence but also is on a verge of losing its identity. However, a proper definition of ODD and strengthening of its values can help gain back its significance in the present scenario. Otherwise, ODD will completely lose its significance from the organizations and will soon see its values being used under some other label leading to non existence of ODD.