Organization Development (OD) -- The Field and Resources for OD Professionals

Assembled by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

NOTE: This site distinguishes the difference between "organizational development" and "Organization Development." The former phrase refers to the nature and scope of change in organizations, i.e., the change is to the entire organization or to a significant portion of the organization. The latter phrase refers to a field of well-trained people with expertise in guiding successful organizational development. (For training about consulting to organizations, see the Consultants Development Institute.)

Sections of This Topic Include

Learning About OD

About the Field of Organization Development (definitions, books, educational programs)

Understanding the Territory of OD

Yourself as an Instrument of Change
Organizations, Leadership and Management

Community Organizing
Organizational Performance Management
Consulting (Professionalism, Process, Contracts, etc.)

Doing OD

Typical Stages of Organization Development Process
Major Types of Interventions

Next Step in Organizational Change Theory? Dialogic Organization Development

Additional Resources

Other Business and Management Topics
Other Online Libraries
Organizations Focused on OD

Also see
Related Library Topics

Also See the Library’s Blogs Related to Organization

In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Organization Development. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog.

Library's Consulting and Organizational Development Blog
Library's Leadership Blog

About the Field of Organization Development

The field of Organization Development (OD) is focused on improving the effectiveness of organizations and the people in those organizations. The nature of organizational change is very much at the core of working in the field of OD. Organizational change and Organization Development are often referenced together. Therefore, the reader might be served by reviewing information in the topic, which includes description of the field, various educational programs in OD, and books to read about OD.

What is Organization Development?
History of Organization Development (Part 1 of 6) — “Prehistoric OD”
History of Organization Development (Part 2 of 6) — “The Psychologists”
History of Organization Development (Part 3 of 6) — A Timeline of Who Did What and When
History of Organization Development (Part 4 of 6) — Frederick Taylor, the First Modern ‘Change’ Consultant
History of Organization Development (Part 5 of 6) — Wilfred Bion and Eric Trist “The Birth of Self-Managed Work Groups”
History of Organization Development (Part 6 of 6) – “Can People Really Change? The Genius of Kurt Lewin”
People support what they create
30 Years of OD History - 1
30 Years of OD History - 2
Building OD Education for the Infinite World of Tomorrow (wonderful overview of the state of OD educational programs)
Organization Development (OD) -- Getting Started and Remaining Up-to-Date
Making Sense of Organization Develoment

Understanding Yourself as an Instrument of Change

Your nature and the way you choose to work has significant impact on your client's organization. You cannot separate yourself from your client's organization, as if you are some kind of detached observer. You become part of your client's system. Thus, it is critical that you have a good understanding of yourself, including your biases (we all have them), how you manage feedback and conflict, how you like to make decisions and solve problems, how you naturally view organizations, your skills as a consultant, etc. The following document explains each of these considerations in more detail and ends with a quick self-assessment.
Understanding Yourself as Instrument of Change

Understanding Organizations, Leadership and Management

A highly effective OD practitioner has strong understanding of the systems, structures and processes in an organization -- and how those systems, structures and processes are managed. The following links (reviewed in the following order) might be helpful to establish some sense about organizations and their management.
Introduction to Organizations
Introduction to Management
Group Dynamics
Introduction to Leadership
Supervision (an introduction)
Chief Executive Role
Boards of Directors

Understanding Community Organizing

We OD practitioners sometimes forget that OD has its roots in community development (through works of Benne, Lewin, etc.). Community organizers are often deep in the "trenches" working challenges such as organizational design, organizational transformation, leadership development, conflict management, etc.
Community Organizing

Understanding Performance Management

Organizational change should not be conducted for the sake of change. Organizational change efforts should be geared to improve performance of organizations and people in those organizations. Therefore, it's useful for OD practitioners to have an understanding of what is meant by "performance" and methods to manage performance in organizations.
Basics of Performance Management
Group Performance Management
Employee Performance Management
Organizational Performance Management

Understanding Consulting

Principles for Effective Consulting
Ethical Consulting
Boundaries for Consultants
Multicultural Consulting
Minimize Consulting Liabilities and Risk
When to Bail from a Consulting Project

Stages of Organization Development Process

The typical OD process and the consulting process often follow an action research approach. Consequently, there is often an overlap between materials that are useful to both processes. Also, there are many variations of the process, including by combining various phases and/or splitting some into more phases.

Entering and Contracting in Organizations

Consultants (getting, doing, requests for proposals, proposals, contracts, etc.)
What Type of OD Practitioner Are You?

Types of Clients (to answer critical question: "who is current client?")
Assessing Client's Readiness for Change
Defining Project "Success"
Example of an Entry Conversation Between Consultant and Client

Building Trust
Non-Verbal Communications
Appreciative Inquiry

Diagnosing (Discovery in) Systems in Organizations

Planning and Conducting Data Collection

Organizational Assessments and Analysis (overviews)
Basic Research Methods (planning, selecting, methods, etc.)
Designing Assessment and Evaluation Tools
Selecting from Among Publicly Available Assessments
Some Common Types of Data to Collect
Some Sources of Data and Methods to Collect that Data

Analyzing Research Results

Analyzing, Interpreting and Reporting Results
Systems Thinking
Critical Thinking
Problem Solving
A Diagnostic Model for For-Profit Organizations
A Diagnostic Model for Nonprofit Organizations

Generating Findings and Conclusions

Decision Making
Some Types of Issues Reported, or Found from Data, in Nonprofits
Some Types of Issues Reported, or Found from Data, in For-Profits

Writing Reports

Guidelines for Successful Planning
Communications (Writing Research Findings and Recommendations)

Sharing Findings and Recommendations in Client's Organization

Meeting Management
Group Facilitation
Sharing Feedback
Managing Group Conflict
Handling Difficult People

Managing and Evaluating Organizational Change

Note that the kinds of possible activities, or "interventions," that are implemented to address the various findings from the diagnosis or discovery are itemized later on below.

Organizational Change (understanding where it fits, different types, etc.)
Organizational Performance Management (many methods)
Planning (many kinds)
Organizing (many kinds)
Organizational Communications
Coordinating Activities (the management function)
Evaluating (many kinds)

During this phase, you might repeat some of the assessments that you did earlier in the discovery phase.

Major Types of Interventions

The field of Organization Development uses a variety of processes, approaches, methods, techniques, applications, etc., (these are often termed "interventions") to address organizational issues and goals in order to increase performance. The following partial list of interventions is organized generally in the order presented by Cummings and Worley in their "Organization Development and Change" (West Publishing, 1993).

Human Process Interventions

Guiding Individuals

Morale (Boosting)


Conflict Management
Group Facilitation
Group Learning
Self-Directed Work Teams
Team Building
Virtual Teams

Technostructural Interventions

Downsizing and Outsourcing
Organizing Tasks, Jobs and Roles
Organizing Staff
Business Process Re-Engineering
Total Quality Management

Human Resource Management Interventions

Employee Performance Management

Establishing Performance Goals
Performance Plans
Observation and Feedback
Evaluating Performance
Rewarding Performance
Recognizing Performance Problems ("Performance Gaps")
Performance Improvement / Development Plans
Firing Employees

Employee Development

Career Development
Leadership Development Planning
Management Development Planning
Personal Development
Personal Productivity
Personal Wellness
Supervisory Development Planning
Training and Development

Employee Wellness Programs

Diversity Management
Drugs in the Workplace
Employee Assistance Programs
Ergonomics: Safe Facilities in the Workplace
HIV/AIDS in the Workplace
Personal Wellness
Preventing Violence in the Workplace
Safety in the Workplace
Spirituality in the Workplace

Strategic Interventions

Business Planning
Cultural Change
Large-Scale Interventions
Organizational Transformation
Strategic Planning

Some Combined Types

Some Types of Capacity Building in For-Profit Organizations (and how clients choose them)
Some Types of Capacity Building in Nonprofit Organizations (and how clients choose them)

Next Step in Organizational Change Theory? Dialogic Organization Development

As quoted from the website Dialogic Organization Development, "Dialogic OD is the next step in the evolution of organizational change theory, from thinking of organizations as organisms that adapt to their environments, to organizations as conversations where individual, group, and organizational actions result from self-organizing, socially constructed realities created and sustained by the prevailing narratives, stories, and conversations through which people make meaning about their experiences."

What is Dialogic Organization Development - Part 1
Organisational Development: Diagnostic or Dialogic?
The Dialogic Change Model
What is the Evidence of Dialogic Outcomes?
Dialogic Organization Development Recapturing the Spirit of Inquiry
An Introduction to Advances in Dialogic Organization Development
The Dialogic Organization Development Approach to Transformation and Change
Papers on Dialogic Organization Development
My Journey into Dialogic Organization Development

Other Business and Management Topics to Round Out OD Skills

Advertising and Promotion
Benefits and Compensation
Computers, Internet and Web
Crisis Management
Customer Satisfaction
Customer Service
Ethics in the Workplace
Facilities Management
Financial Management (for-profit)
Financial Management (nonprofit)
Fundraising (for for-profit)
Fundraising (for nonprofit)
Legal Information (employee laws, etc.)
Marketing (all facets)
Operations Management
Policies (personnel)
Product/Service Management
Project Management
Program Management
Public and Media Relations
Risk Management
Social Entrepreneurship
Starting an Organization (for-profit or nonprofit)
Volunteers (recruiting, managing, etc.)

Other Online Libraries

There are a large number of online libraries with materials in regard to the many aspects of organization development. The following links are to libraries with many materials and are a good start for finding more materials, as well.

Organizations Focused on OD


(Thanks to the National OD Network for organizing and posting a great deal of online information about national OD-related information.)

International Association of Facilitators
International Society for Performance Improvement
Institute for Cultural Affairs -- World-Wide
Midwest Facilitators' Network
National OD Network
Society for Human Resource Management

Local (to Minnesota)

Minnesota Facilitators' Network
Minnesota Organization Development Network
Twin Cities Human Resource Association

General Resources

Online groups

Extensive, annotated bibliography of books on organizational behavior and development

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