What is Organizational Development?

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One key concept discussed in boardrooms across all industry is corporate activity in organizational development. Sometimes called organizational leadership, the idea of companies examining their policies, resources, financial goals and other aspects of business to affect positive change is so popular that schools offer degree programs in it.

Definition of Organizational Development

One definition of the concept is an interdisciplinary field with components from business, human resources, industrial and organizational psychology, sociology, and other fields. There are many variables that affect whether an organization is considered successful. Organizational leadership is the process of assessing which of the variables apply to the specific organization and how to manipulate them to bring about positive changes in the overall function of the group. A definition that has long been accepted is that this is “an effort, planned, organized, and managed from the top to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization’s processes using behavioral science knowledge.” The important components of that definition are that change is planned from management down, that it involves knowledge of human and organizational behavior and that action is required.

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Eight Steps of Organizational Leadership

Eight steps have been identified by a LinkedIn article as being important to organizational leadership.

• First, organizations should attempt to involve all employees in decision-making. They need some input into the direction the organization is taking.

• Second, change should focus on groups and departments.

• Third, before change can occur, trust must be built throughout the organization.

• Fourth, the culture of competition in the organization must shift to one of collaboration.

• Fifth, the organization should invest in its employees in education, benefits, and motivational incentives.

• Sixth, all employees must have a path to give feedback on the success of the process.

• Seventh, all employees must actively participate in the procedure.

• Eighth, the change may involve strategically-planned corporate “interventions” such as mergers.

Organizational Leaders

Many business experts believe that this type of leadership should come from the human resources department. An article in Forbes Magazine says the most important factor in organizational change is managing human capital. The article author says that human resource departments should focus more on being “strategic business partners” and less on implementing HR policies. The article goes on to say that the most important components of the development are identifying options for change that are available to the corporation and then to look at employees in terms of management talent and how to recruit, train and keep that talent.

HR also should be responsible for creating a motivational program that would permeate the entire organization. Obviously, the kind of assessment and change discussed here necessitates the leadership of people who understand human and organizational behavior and other components of the challenge of organizational change. Universities offer degree programs for professionals that include undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as doctoral degrees and certifications. Certificates can generally be earned in less than a year and can supplement other business degrees. Students take courses in areas like communications, conflict resolution, staff development, and human resource management.

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