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Organizational Development has come a long way from languishing in the shadows of HR to being widely recognized as the primary driver of core organizational competencies through targeted interventions. It traverses the delicate path of progressive transition to a better state by employing the services of Change Management that embodies the systematic approach to managing risk in reaching desired goals and objectives.

However, too many promising initiatives fail due to lack of foresight in instilling and institutionalizing certain principles that are critical to ensuring a high probability of success.

These keys are:

Key No. 1 – The Irrefutable Need
This refers to the timely realization of the significance of development and change that is required to ensure the survival/competitiveness of the organization. It normally stems from organizational analysis (PESTLE, SWOT, Balanced Scorecard, Weisbord’s 6 Box Model, Mckinsey 7S, etc.). It generally indicates the stagnating business growth, commoditized core competencies, misalignment of strategic priorities with tactical measures and precarious financial situation. It is imperative in nature and demands the undivided attention on the part of top/senior management.

Key No. 2 – The Burning Desire
This refers to coaxing of the passion that simmers in an enlightened top/senior management to excel beyond the conventional and foreseeable horizon. It is manifested as an intrinsic motivation within the primary decision makers to engage their ambitions in taking calculated risks from a position of relative comfort. It requires the courage to question the status quo and the willingness to initiate appropriate actions for shining within the constellation of relevant industry competitors without extinguishing the fire of innovation by dousing it with impending complacency.

Key No. 3 – The Optimized Decisiveness
This refers to the knack for taking balanced decisions that are warranted in view of the indubitable need and the infectious desire for the long-term survival/competitiveness of the organization. It takes into account the available evidence in the form of analytical reports, employee/client feedback and the stated vision for scaling new heights by a certain time frame in the future. The respective decision should be deliberated between the senior management in a democratic fashion, however, the final conclusion should be drawn by the person gracing the top position with a clear idea, acceptance, preparedness and accountability for the positive and negative consequences of ensuing actions.

Key No. 4 – The Transcendent Message
This refers to creating, designing and communicating the message that inspires a passionate following/buy-in within the organization to the call for progressive change and development. The respective message needs to embody an optimum mix of both fluidity and viscosity. Fluidity to ensure that it flows at all levels of the organization and can funnel/seep through functional silos/questioning mindsets/grapevine gropers without any hindrance. Viscosity to ensure that it sticks in the reflective minds/thoughts/attitudes of employees long after the initial communication has taken place for providing a “safe house” to keep doubts/inhibitions/fears at bay.

Key No. 5 – The Wise Selection
This refers to indulging in an inspired selection of the team that can get the job done. It has to be led by a person who is comfortable in his/her own skin with an intellectual and technical acumen that is able to demand attention at the very top and carry enough charisma to charm all parts of the organization. The real challenge is to become the beacon of hope in the “dark places” of the organization, where fear and doubt breed profusely. The associated team members should be bundles of infectious energy, enthusiasm and drive coupled with a delightful disposition as interactive sources of information, facilitation and application.

Key No. 6 – The Insightful Plan
The inception and development of an astute plan, peppered with strategic and operational objectives, is essential in order to proceed forward with OD initiatives in a systematic manner. It is an ode to action that needs to be firm in its intent, unambiguous in its direction and accommodating in its application to safeguard against elevation to such a “sacrosanct” status that it breeds massive alienation and incentivizes a buy-out situation. It should bolster the confidence of key stakeholders and neutralize the active/passive resistance from pessimistic quarters.

Key No. 7 – The Keen Acceptance
Embracing of the OD plan by the employees whose desire for expediency has been emboldened by the transcendent message is crucial to success. It should be evident by the “reverberating chatter” permeating throughout the organization and manifested in the invigorated emphasis on going beyond the routine. This also serves as a timely reminder to all the conniving forces lurking within the “dark alleys” of the organization that the time for Machiavellianism is over and “crossing the picket lines” would be a more productive option.

Key No. 8 – The Religious Application
This refers to the devout realization of the OD plan through the blissful harmonization of comprehensive planning with practical rendition. It should be knitted with the reflective process of “action research” and provide an opportunity for the dedicated implementers to raise the flag for personal competence as a foreword to subsequent reward and recognition. The momentum for effective execution should be robustly maintained with visible support from the top/senior management to sustain/reinforce the psychological contract with key stakeholders.

Key No. 9 – The Dogged Engagement
This refers to the unwavering deployment of the “organizational citizenship” behavior that is entrenched in the intrinsically motivated employees and sparkles during the performance of their duties and responsibilities. It should be actively coveted and encouraged by elevating its status to a “core value” for the progressive organization. Great examples of its application should become part of the “corporate folklore” and case studies preserved within the knowledge bank for onboarding/imbuing new inductees with the finer aspects of the espoused organizational culture.

Key No. 10 – The Stimulating Review
This refers to the invigorating process of formal analysis done at defined intervals to gauge the effectiveness of actions taken to meet the strategic and operational objectives. It should be meticulously planned, smoothly conducted, actively participated and resolutely followed up to avoid detachment from reaching the ultimate destination of competitive nirvana. Records of such reviews should become an important ingredient to the development of case studies and for the replenishment of the knowledge bank.

Key No. 11 – The Honest Affirmation
This refers to the diligent completion of corrective/preventive actions (CA/PA) that emanate from the stimulating review. It requires an intrinsic pledge of sincerity and industriousness on behalf of the employees tasked with the efficient completion and effective closure of CA/PA, since sedentary/rudimentary/disingenuous efforts will only exacerbate the situation and compromise the noble intent of the whole exercise. Records of such CA/PA should be deposited in the knowledge bank.

Key No. 12 – The Fair Remuneration
This refers to the inducement of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation through the allocation of appropriate rewards and recognition for services rendered by employees involved in the successful OD initiatives. It should have a high “felt fairness” perception among the beneficiaries and their peers by upholding the best tenets of organizational justice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_justice). Experimentation in terms of increasing the “delight” factor with the designing of unexpected benefits should be habitually explored.

Key No. 13 – The Delicate Nurturing
This refers to an intrinsic/introspective pledge and an extrinsic/visible commitment by the top/senior management for effective talent management. It includes the dedication of significant resources in inculcating desired competencies within the employees through formal and informal means in a sensitive manner. Such measures should not be subservient to short-term needs and tie symbiotically to the long-term growth plans of the organization. Diversity and generational (e.g., Gen X, Gen Y) issues should form a valuable part of the solution and not be relegated as part of the problem.

Key No. 14 – The Attractive Branding
This refers to the image-building/preservation initiatives taken by the top/senior management to forge an endearing bond between the organization and its current/potential employees. Such efforts should stem from the pervasiveness of “corporate citizenship” behavior within the organization. The resulting success should be internally acknowledged and projected by engaged employees in relevant surveys and externally acclaimed by independent corporate monitors, e.g., Great Place to Work (http://www.greatplacetowork.com/).

Key No. 15 – The Delicious Invitation
This refers to developing an attractive package for soliciting desired talent that is currently residing outside the organization. It should embody the essence of the “organizational goodness,” including the virtues of a durable “organizational brand,” and be vociferously advocated by the most effervescent employees. The primary aim of such an enterprising initiative should be to assimilate desired talent within the organization, as a revitalization measure, at a manageable pace that can ease its march towards organizational effectiveness.

The aforementioned keys can be encapsulated under the “ACHIEVER” acronym as follows:

– Inception & Expediency Oriented – Keys Nos. 1-6
– Effectuation & Harmonization Oriented – Keys Nos. 7-9
– Verification & Compliance Oriented – Keys Nos. 10-11
– Attainment & Revitalization Oriented – Keys Nos. 12-15

Parting Advice
Don’t forget the Keys!