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Constant Change is the New Normal: its time to re-think

By, Randy Rothschiller, June 2015
In our recent HR Executive Forum, a peer coaching community built by Suzanne
Elshult of HRNow, some 20 or so of my peers and I explored OD. Two driving
questions guided our discussions:
1. What are the prevailing schools of thought around OD.
2. Why should business leaders care about it?
I learned a lot from my peer HR Executives. Firstly, it was clear that OD does not
have a straightforward meaning anymore. For that matter, Im not certain that it
ever did. Its fuzzy. Certainly two widely recognized definitions were expressed
amongst the group. For many, OD addresses the traditional boxes and lines form
the org. chart of an enterprise. And to others, it refers to the development of a
companys effectiveness as it competes in the marketplace.
Wondering if there really is a well-recognized and widely used OD model, I took a
moment to search the internet for the most common models out there. There are
five common models: Galbraiths Star Model (1960), Weisbords Six Box Model
(1970s), Nadler and Tushmans Congruence Model (1980), McKinseys 7S model
(1980s), and Burke-Litwin Model (1992). By the way, search the internet and youll
find that there are hundreds of models that exist.
The Galbraith Star model was widely recognized amongst our group as an
effective structure for analyzing an organizations effectiveness. It looks beyond the
structure into alignment of polices and other levers that affect employee behavior.
Since 1960, it has stood the test of time with books being written, and classes being
taught about its theory and application.
Everybody agreed, however, that the model is strictly eyes only and top secret
for Human Resources use. Attempts to educate the rest of the business on a
framework of OD can be fruitless. For the rest of leadership, its less the journey
than the destination. Just fix it! But we still know that its an organization-wide
effort. This might be one reason for an emerging approach.
The latest trend in OD is dialogical. Sounds rather like HR mumbo jumbo to me.
On the contrary! Dialogic Organizational Development means using open and
ongoing conversation, or dialogue, throughout the organization. Through dialogue,
leaders can elicit every day, common sense perspectives from the team, engage
with their developing ideas, and learn ways to keep the company competitive in
rapidly changing market conditions. Successful companies function as a
community, where conversation is organic and dynamic; the way OD must be.
Dialogic OD has been around since the 1960s, but in the 80s it started to evolve and
apparently is emerging as a more mainstream framework today. Learn more about
it by searching the internet, or go to these links: An Introduction to Advances in

Dialogic Organization Development at

or Dialogic Organization Development at
Why should a companys top brass care about OD? They shouldnt. But I cant help
but want to shout: you should care about OD because its THE biggest tool you
have to evolve the company and drive results! On a rational note, we should all be
focused on our companies attaining success. Which means staying competitive and
flexible in an ever-changing and evolving marketplace. HR knows that OD tackles
change and we should care about OD for the rest of the leadership team.
As HR executives, we know that through OD, our organizations have the potential to
change culture, build capacity, achieve goals and purposefully manage challenges
in a dynamic environment. Regardless of the model, its the end goal that really
matters: enabling a companys effectiveness and helping it achieve success. We
know that constant change is the new normal; HR and our tools must be nimble and
dialogical. This forum helped me to re-think OD, and I left realizing I need to think
even more about it.
Interested in re-thinking OD? Check out this article: