Thoughts on Organizational Development

Swanson and Holton’s chapter The Nature of the Change Process left my head spinning. I never stopped to think about the complexity of change, specifically the various types of change outcomes and change theories. I can understand the importance of change in relationship to OD. The constant pressure to keep up with the pace of change and meet the demands of the future affect every organization. HRD professionals then lead and facilitate change in an effort to help organizations improve, meet performance standards, and provide strategic insight for the future (pg. 308). One similarity I found for each work process, group, or individual change theory or outcome involved some type of commitment to change. 

I kept going back to Lewin’s principle on commitment to action/change. The workers will commit to a change they helped create. Motivation is the underlying principle of any change process. The most important concept of organizational development is involving everyone in each step of the process when it comes to the “unfreezing, movement, refreezing” philosophy. (Swanson, pg. 315).  OD involves some type of “buy in” from the worker, which is why I think group-focused or team-building approaches are at the heart of OD practices.  Workers feel more comfortable sharing confidential information when their input is valued and has the power to change people and the organization as a whole.

After reading Swanson’s chapters on organizational development, I filled out a “Climate Survey” at my work, which asked 12 month faculty for their feedback on issues like supervision satisfaction, professional development opportunities, and administrative transparency . Our Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success collects this qualitative data for quality improvement purposes. I’ve not participated in the survey in the past, but I was ready and willing to give my input this time around.  My eagerness to provide feedback is a result of this class. I now realize the importance of participative management. Our Vice Provost is new, and I’m waiting to see his reactions to the feedback and visions for the future.  In comparing my department to Swanson and Holton’s performance system model, we are in Phase 2: Diagnose and Feedback. What I’m most looking forward to, however, is Phase 3 and 4: Plan, Design, and Develop and Implement. In this way, I agree with Swanson and Holton that OD has the potential to unleash “human expertise required to maintain and/or change organizations,” but this is only possible when everyone is on board and real action takes place as a result of the feedback (pg. 306). Leadership and management maintain the integrity of OD process by institutionalizing change (assuming the change is for the better.. which is another topic altogether). 


One thought on “Thoughts on Organizational Development

  1. What a great post Mary:) I have to say that one of my favorite parts is when you describe how you went back to work and took on a survey that you didn’t value in the past. That change in the way you viewed the task or request is a perfect example of why it is so important to get people involved in what is taking place around them. The more you understand the world that you are working in, the more you understand the reasons or the why behind the request…the more engaged you can become in your work. And while that survey may be a small thing, imagine what may come from the ideas that you were ready and willing to share. And imagine how good it will feel to help make those changes you suggested? Superb!

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