If you and your leadership team were facing a challenge where would you seek help to solve it?

Would you look for help through organisational design (OD) or a business coach? The answer may depend upon whether your organisation is large or at SME level. Typically OD is considered a ‘corporate’ activity; in reality it’s for every single organisation regardless of size or sector.

At Tusk, we define OD simply as the intelligent use of established methodologies to enable an organisation to succeed. It all boils down to the word ‘development’ meaning growth and progress.

OD suffers from bad press: expensive consultants with flashy ‘big picture’ ideas that or various reasons never get implemented. It’s one of the reasons why OD is seen as the reserve of large corporates – they’re the only ones who can afford it!

The principles of organisational development
I have an unshakable belief in the value of OD having spent over 20 years in related roles both as an employed professional and now with Tusk, my own consultancy. I’ve worked with a variety of organisations including small not-for-profit. Despite the obvious differences in size, sector and outlook, they share key characteristics and have common ground upon which core ‘truths’ and the principles of OD can be established:

  • Growth and progress are the main goals of every organisation regardless of size or purpose
  • ‘Development’ by default is an ongoing process which calls for a different mindset in order to create the right culture
  • People are at the heart of an organisation so everyone needs to be involved in its development
  • Transparency through your data is vital: collect it, analyse it, believe it, act on it

Taking them one-by-one, here’s an overview of Tusk organisational development:

OD is for every organisation
Growth and progress are the main goals of every organisation, regardless of size or purpose. OD, used strategically, is an important tool in this respect; a means of keeping you on track anticipating and reacting to your environment.

Of course, no two organisations are the same – how you run your business is all part of how you differentiate yourself in the market place. But every organisation faces the same principle challenges – from operational issues and logistics to sales and staffing.

Greiner’s Growth Model* is a useful guide to the growth phases that organisations face. Each phase is made up of a period of relatively stable growth, followed by a ‘crisis’ when major organisational change is necessary.

OD is an ongoing activity
Organisational development is an ogoing activity – a continuous process – balanced in its attention to people, processes and technology. Achieving continuous improvement is the ideal using interventions as appropriate to keep an organisation on track. From time to time large transformation programmes are necessary to ‘reboot’ an organisation. Thereafter, change can be on a more gradual and less disruptive basis.

Has people at its heart
“A planned and systematic approach to enabling sustained organisational performance through the involvement of its people”. That’s the CIPD’s definition of OD (organisational development).

Leadership teams in countless organisations don’t include the workforce in any meaningful way. The ‘people’ are regularly left out until it comes to implementing a plan when suddenly their ‘input’ is needed.

Take the people with you from day one. For OD to work, it needs to be more than an abstract plan devised by the senior team. The success of OD interventions, particularly disruptive transformations, rests ultimately with your people, the workforce.

Tusk provides strategic and tactical HR services to many organisations so we know how to get your ‘human resource’ on side.

Transparency through your data
An holistic approach to data analysis and integration means you can apply the intelligence to your overarching strategy. We all have access to comprehensive data-collection tools and diagnostic information. Generally though, we don’t use it (because we don’t believe it?) to tell us how to act.

So-called ‘big data’ and analytics is critical for implementing ‘lean finance’ strategies leading to minimising inefficiencies, reducing unnecessary costs and improving speed, flexibility and quality.

Organisational development – trending right now
Flexible OD applies tried and tested methodologies to an organisation’s individual environment and circumstances. Take recruitment for example; the temptation is to hire on a short term need basis, maybe relying upon contract and temporary staff. Even for small businesses that model isn’t going to sustain you. Having a recruitment strategy that acknowledges tactical needs but has it sights on where the organisation is going, is vital. Especially post Brexit and intra-Covid.

With every client I gain an even greater respect for leaders and their people. Helping them get themselves ready to develop their organisations is a great privilege for Tusk.

*Larry E Greiner

(Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)

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