The Myth of Organisational Development

I was talking to a colleague from HR last week and asked him what his role was.
He proudly informed me that he was an Organisational Development (OD) Manager.
Oh yes, I responded, and what is OD?

At which point I was met with a blank look that spoke volumes. My colleague may well have been an OD Manager, but they had no idea what OD actually is. And why should they? It’s a hugely misunderstood concept with the biggest misconception that OD is just for the big guys.

It’s not; OD is valuable to businesses whatever their size and operation.

So what is OD and what’s its relevance to Enterprise Britain?

At the simplest level OD is about the future. It’s about understanding where the business is going to be in two, three, five or even ten years time and then putting in place the people plans to make sure it gets there.

Okay, I agree that this explanation is an over simplification, but not by much. The most complex thing about OD is that it combines a range of HR disciplines as well as some key management functions, such as strategic planning! Many larger organisations employ OD Managers but in Enterprise Britain the OD manager is probably you and anyone else on your board.

The next time you have a planning or strategy meeting you could also do a bit of organisational development. Try it and see what happens. Of course, you’ll need to consider a few things, such as how many people you will need to achieve your plans – and you will need an Organisation Chart, too. This is a chart of all the positions in your business and how they link to each other.

This will tell you what extra people you’ll to recruit (and what positions you can lose, too, if that’s appropriate.) From this you will get the rudiments of your Manpower Plan.

It will also tell you what skills the people you recruit will need. It will also tell you what skills your current people will need to development. Hey presto, you now have the beginnings of a Development Plan, too.

The secret, then, is to implement all this good stuff. But once you have it planned, you’ve won at least half the battle. Implementation is just the same as any other plan you have for your business – after all, you wouldn’t dream of missing out on the implementation of your Financial Plan, would you?

So, a short extension to your current planning processes will turn you into a fully fledged OD Department, too. And who said OD was just for the big players?

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