Organization Development (OD) -- Getting Started and Remaining Up-to-Date

Assembled by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

There are a wide variety of business-, management- and organization-related practices in the field of organization development. Consequently, there may be a wide variety of perspectives about the knowledge and skills needed by a practitioner in organization development.

However, a highly skilled OD practitioner should have a wide set of competencies if he or she is to be effective in addressing organization-wide problems and goals. Information on this page is geared to help you develop your knowledge and skills to be -- and remain -- an effective practitioner in organization development.

The following advice is from one perspective offered by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD. Those seeking to expand and evolve their knowledge and skills in OD certainly should seek as many perspectives as possible on how to get started in OD and how to remain effective as an OD practitioner.

Also see
Related Library Topics

First, Get a Basic Impression of OD and Competencies Needed by OD Practitioners

The field of organization development encompasses a wide set of practices. However, all of these practices contribute towards increasing the effectiveness of organizations and their members. Get an impression of what OD is by reading
What is Organization Development?

You might glance at the list of topics throughout Organization Development and Change (includes field of OD) to get a sense for some of the knowledge and skills involved in OD practices. Note that the organization and listing of the topics in the Library are not meant to represent a complete and "official" list of standardized competencies needed by an OD practitioner.

When trying to understand the competencies needed by OD practitioners, you'll benefit from reviewing the report presented to the ODC Division of the Academy of Management:
ODC Competencies Report

 

Next, Round Out Your Understanding of OD -- Learn the Basic "Territory" of OD

There is a rich history of research, theories, models and practices in the field of OD. It would be highly questionable to call oneself an "OD professional" without having studied at least some of the key works that focus on the field of OD. See the "Recommended Books" referenced from the bottom of this page.

Next, Strongly Consider Enrolling In an OD-Training Program

There are a number of very fine education institutions that provide solid programs in organization development. The following link references many of the major programs. See
Educational Programs in Organization Development (OD)

Understand the Role of Consultant

OD practitioners are often consultants to organizations, whether "internal" (that is, hired as employees to the organization) or "external" (hired as independent contractors by the organization). Therefore, it's important to have a good understanding of the role of a consultant, including how they are sought and used by clients. The following link might be useful:
Getting and Working with Consultants

Realize That Without Practice There is No Knowledge

Similar to skills in management, skills in organization development may be as much art as science. There are many rapidly changing dynamics in the systems of organizations and human systems. Without practice, it can be very difficult to evolve a head full of information to a heart full of skills. Therefore, seek opportunities to apply new information and materials from OD books and educational programs. Consider:
1) Joining a network of OD professionals -- here's a list of some other OD organizations
2) Getting a mentor
3) Volunteer to provide OD services to nonprofits in your community
4) Seek to "ride the coattails" of an experienced OD practitioner as she/he completes various projects to improve organization-wide performance.

Network, Network and Network!

You can learn a great deal by interacting and working with other OD practitioners. Here are some suggestions for networking:
1) Join an OD-Related Organization.
2) Join one or more discussion groups (see those listed from the right-hand side of this page.

Commit to Continuous Learning

Today's organizations are changing rapidly as a result of increasing globalization, diversity and public consciousness. Therefore, the key to success in any organization is the ability to manage change -- thus, the increasing priority on continuous learning.

As organizations must change, so must we professionals in organization development. We must continually be open to -- and be able to manage -- our own learning. We can't change organizations if we can't change ourselves.

Good luck!


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For the Category of Organizational Development:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books

Managing Organizational Change

Growing Your Organization



Managing Organizational Change

Consulting and Organization Development - Book Cover Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides complete, step-by-step guidelines to identify complex issues in for-profit or government organizations and successfully resolve each of them. This book is also helpful to organizations that are doing fine now, but want to evolve to the next level of performance. This is one of the truly comprehensive, yet practical, books about this complex subject! Includes online forms that can be downloaded. Many materials in this Library's topic about guiding change are adapted from this comprehensive book.
Consulting and Organization Development With Nonprofits - Book Cover Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development With Nonprofits
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides complete, step-by-step guidelines to identify complex issues in nonprofit organizations and successfully resolve each of them. This book is also helpful to organizations that are doing fine now, but want to evolve to the next level of performance. This is one of the truly comprehensive, yet practical, books about this complex subject! Includes online forms that can be downloaded. Many materials in this Library's topic about guiding change are adapted from this comprehensive book.

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Growing Your Organization

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Also See for For-Profits

Strategic Planning -- Recommended Books

Business Development -- Recommended books

Financing Your Business -- Recommended Books

Product Development -- Recommended books

Planning and Project Management -- Recommended Books

Also See for Nonprofits

Strategic Planning -- Recommended Books

Social Entrepreneurship (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Capacity Building (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Fundraising -- Recommended Books

Program Management -- Recommended Books

Planning and Project Management -- Recommended Books

Capacity Building (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books




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