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The intervention as organizational rehab

Toby Elwin Blog, Organization Behavior 0 Comments

intervention, organizational rehab, organization behavior, development, talent

Oh, here comes the U.N. now we know this mess is serious

When organizations promote star talent, I’ve never once heard, that their star’s organization development skills were key to their promotion.

When I read a press release for a C-level hiring, promotion, or bonus being paid out, I’ve see organization development highlighted as a key to their success.

When building job roles, descriptions, or competencies I have never been part of a conversation that starts with how the role succeeds by consistently showing organization development behaviors.

Until I bring organization development knowledge, skills, and abilities up as an important component of individual and team success, why should anyone care about organization development?

What does organization development have to do with a firm’s or an individual’s success?

A classic definition of organization development(OD) comes from Richard Beckhard’s 1969 Organization Development: Strategies and Models:

Organization Development is an effort (1) planned, (2) organization-wide, and (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health through (5) planned interventions in the organizations “processes,” using behavioral-science knowledge.

To me Beckhards’s 1969 pronouncement is even more a critical capability for both today’s organization as well as a anyone’s success.

But what, specifically, is an intervention:

“Interventions” are principal learning processes in the “action” stage of organization development. Interventions are structured activities used individually or in combination by the members of a client system to improve their social or task performance.

They may be introduced by a change agent as part of an improvement program, or they may be used by the client following a program to check on the state of the organization’s health, or to effect necessary changes in its own behavior.

“Structured activities” mean such diverse procedures as experiential exercises, questionnaires, attitude surveys, interviews, relevant group discussions, and even lunchtime meetings between the change agent and a member of the client organization.

Every action that influences an organization’s improvement program in a change agent-client system relationship can be said to be an intervention.*

To intervene or not to intervene, seems less of a question than a core competency.

We need to intervene before we lose even more of your organization’s ability and desire to achieve both individual, team, and organization goals.

We should revisit what has become the noise surrounding essential knowledge, ability, skills, and competencies organizations need from people ready to lead.  Is it all about sales and finance?  Does increasing shareholder value have to come at the cost of your talent’s return?

What if we  begin to build more job roles and responsibilities around organization development and promote and reward those with organization development competencies and behaviors?  Then your entire organization wins:  the people, the organization, and all stakeholders.  ROI:  Return on Investment or Return on Involvement?

Those that think you can throw money or resources at human conflicts or expect people’s frustrations to go away or magically improve have a great opportunity ahead.

Organizational cultures are created by leaders, and one of the most decisive functions of leadership may well be the creation, the management, and – if and when that may become necessary – the destruction of culture. – by Edgar Schein

No doubt I got some things wrong, or left out some important ideas.  Please let me know what you think and suggestions you have for me to add value.

*Richard Arvid Johnson (1976); Management, Systems, and Society: an Introduction; pp. 224–226.

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