ODP, Yeah You Know Me

I love talking with people who work in organizations that have clear and coherent organizational development plans. It doesn't matter if it's the best plan right off the bat, or if it works all the time or if some people don't like it.

They just have a plan. And the people who work there nearly always appreciate it. 

Having a plan is a start, and it's a start that puts that group in a more dynamic position, since most organizations prioritize organizational development plans how many schools prioritize art and music—it doesn't exactly dominate.

If an OD plan is defined as:

Clear, specific goals


with timelines

accounted for

with contingencies (if it's a big plan and the organization is conscientious about mistake mitigation). 

An Organizational Development Plan helps focus the organization's performance rather than suffer from efficiency bleed due to staff constantly seeking clarity, questioning company OD objectives, or just not focusing on getting better and doing their best work.

Cool roof. You know what happens as trees get older, right?

Cool roof. You know what happens as trees get older, right?

Social scientist and OD pioneer Kurt Lewin ("luh-veen") illustrated the concept of efficiency bleed with an analogy of the company being a car that is zooming down the highway. As it drives by it looks fast, it's moving, it's going somewhere. But what you don't notice from that perspective is that even though the car is moving quickly, the parking brake is on.

That's organizational efficiency bleed. You can't always see it, because people are getting things done, work is happening, the car is moving forward. But the parking brake is dragging group effectiveness down, burning extra fuel without achieving maximum thrust. 

To improve a group of people is not easy. It requires a lot of work with the individuals who make up the group. There needs to be both individual and overarching change management plans. They need to be clear and specific, written down, with due dates, and with accountability. And if it's a serious enough plan, complex or with potential problems, contingencies should be forecasted.

A nice thing about ODPs is that they function with any group size. In a training and development company I used to work with one of my jobs was to make sure departments and projects had leaders who both enjoyed and used ODPs for their staff. Now, as a consultant I make sure I have ODPs for myself. What do I want to improve upon? Exactly how? By when? What will I do if it doesn't work to the degree I want?

People tell me that the biggest reason leaders don't make plans (or have staff dedicated to OD) is that it takes time/money—time they feel their people could instead be "doing something." As someone who has been responsible for budgets I understand the sentiment. And if your organization's work is simple and your staff are clear and doing repetitious work and the results are making everyone happy and people get along well with each other and your people have no desire for growth or improvement, then why implement a new plan? It would be a waste of time. I would also hate to work there, but I'm sure there are people who would love to just do the same easy thing every day without improvement.

Yet the strongest businesses continue to strive to grow, innovate, create new products and offerings, to learn adaptation and to improve themselves, to think differently and stay in front of the curve.

Who are your organization's best role models for personal development?