Organization Development: A Data-Driven Approach to Organizational Change / Edition 1 available in Hardcover
About the Author
Janine Waclawski is a principal consultant in the management consulting services line of business at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she specializes in using data-driven methods for organizational change and executive development. She is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She specializes in using surveys and multisource feedback for organizational change and executive development.
Allan H. Church is director of organization and management development at PepsiCo, Inc. He specializes in designing customized multisource feedback systems and large-scale diagnostic surveys for organization development and change.
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Organization DevelopmentA Data-Driven Approach to Organizational Change
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-7879-5718-6
Chapter OneIntroduction and Overview of Organization Development as a Data-Driven Approach for Organizational Change
Janine Waclawski Allan H. Church
Unlike medicine, accounting, law, police work, national politics, and many other disciplines, professions, and vocational callings that one might choose to pursue, all of which have a clear, consistent, and focused sense of purpose, the field of organization development (OD) is somewhat unique in its inherent and fundamental lack of clarity about itself. OD is a field that is both constantly evolving and yet constantly struggling with a dilemma regarding its fundamental nature and unique contribution as a collection of organizational scientists and practitioners. Although OD practitioners have been thinking, writing, and debating about the underlying nature of the field for decades (Church, Hurley, & Burke, 1992; Friedlander, 1976, Goodstein, 1984; Greiner, 1980; Sanzgiri & Gottlieb, 1992; Weisbord, 1982), the field itself has yet to come to agreement on its basic boundaries or parameters. Moreover, various practitioner surveys conducted in the 1990s (Church, Burke, & Van Eynde, 1994; Fagenson & Burke, 1990; McMahan & Woodman, 1992) have suggested that the field is no closer to finding the answer to these important questions than it was twenty years ago.
It should come as no surprise, then, that one of the mostpoignant criticisms leveled at OD since its inception is that there are almost as many definitions of the field as there are OD practitioners (Church, Waclawski, & Siegal, 1996; Jamieson, Bach Kallick, & Kur, 1984; Rothwell, Sullivan, & McLean, 1995). The field of OD has been characterized in the literature over the years by such divergent notions as a data-based process driven by survey feedback (Nadler, 1977), a sociotechnical approach focused on job tasks and characteristics (Hackman & Oldham, 1980), an interpersonal process approach to facilitating group dynamics (Schein, 1969), and even a religious movement driven by zealots out to democratize organizations (Harvey, 1974). To put it mildly, there is some disagreement in the field as to what is and is not OD (Church, 2000a).
This lack of a unified definition of or approach to the central nature of OD is due in large part to the diversity of backgrounds of those who engage in OD practice-from forestry, to law, to history, to the social sciences. Because one of the values of the field is inclusivity, relatively little attention has been paid historically to maintaining boundaries around the practice or labeling of OD. A cursory review of some of the professional associations with which OD practitioners affiliate (see Table 1.1), for example, highlights the breadth of membership even among somewhat like-minded groups. Moreover, it has been argued by some that literally anyone can hang a shingle outside and be a self-proclaimed OD practitioner (Church, Waclawski, & Siegal, 1996). Thus, for some, OD represents anything and everything that might be offered. Moreover, because there are only a handful of OD doctoral programs in the United States, there is a real sense among many in the field (Allen et al., 1993; Church & Burke, 1995; Golembiewski, 1989; Van Eynde & Coruzzi, 1993) that the lack of common education, training, and experience is continuing to damage and erode its overall credibility as a profession.
Clearly, given the fractured state of the field and the nature of the many divergent perceptions regarding OD, there is a need in the literature and with respect to training future practitioners for a conceptualization and framework that pulls together the fundamental aspects of OD into a single, unified approach to working with organizations. This chapter presents such an integrative framework for OD. It is intended to encompass the entire spectrum of OD work, from the macro to the micro and the hard data to the soft. Following an overview of some of the differences and similarities among key definitions of the field proffered throughout the past several decades, we explore what we believe are the fundamental guiding principles for OD (including, among other points, the singular importance of interpersonal or human data) and how these are manifested in contemporary practice.
Definitions of OD
Fundamentally, OD is the implementation of a process of planned (as opposed to unplanned) change for the purpose of organizational improvement (as opposed to a focus solely on performance). It is rooted in the social and behavioral sciences and draws its influences from a wide variety of content areas, including social psychology, group dynamics, industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology, participative management theory, organizational behavior, sociology, and even psychotherapy. This diverse background has been cited as both a strength and a weakness of OD. Its strength lies in the breadth and diversity that such openness affords. For the most part, all one needs to do to join a national network of OD professionals is to agree to abide by a set of stated principles and values; no specific tests of skills or knowledge are required. It is unlikely, for example, that a more restrictive or narrowly focused profession could yield practitioners specializing in one-on-one coaching using multisource feedback and large-scale interventions with five hundred or more executives in the same room at the same time. Such openness to new perspectives, approaches, and experiences as being equally representative of OD work, however, is seen by many as a weakness of the field as well. The lack of set boundaries contributes significantly to the perception among potential clients, colleagues, and card-carrying OD practitioners themselves of the field as a scattered and inherently lost profession that lacks a core ideology or set of fundamental assumptions.
Table 1.2 provides an overview of some of the more coherent and comprehensive definitions of the field offered over the past few decade. Although we are somewhat reticent to offer yet another definition, in the interest of integration and advancing the field forward, we believe the best and most current definition of OD is as follows:
Table 1.2. Some Definitions of OD.
Burke (1982) "Planned process of change in an organization's culture through the utilization of behavioral science technologies, research, and theory" (p. 10)
French & Bell "A long-range effort to improve an organization's problem solving and renewal processes, particularly through a more effective and collaborative management of an organization culture ... with the assistance of a change agent, or catalyst, and the use of the theory and technology of applied behavioral science, including action research" (p. 14)
Margulies & "A value-based process of self-assessment and Raia (1972) planned change, involving specific strategies and technology, aimed at improving the overall effectiveness of an organizational system" (p. 24)
Porras & "Planned, behavioral science-based interventions in Robertson work settings for the purpose of improving (1992) organizational functioning and individual development" (p. 721)
Jamieson, Bach "Long-term, planned changes in the culture, Kallick, & Kur technology, and management of a total (1984) organization or at least a significant part of the total organization" (p. 4)
Warrick (1984) "Planned, long-range systems and primarily behavioral science strategy for understanding, developing, and changing organizations to improve their present and future effectiveness and health" (p. 916)
Organization development is a planned process of promoting positive humanistically oriented large-system change and improvement in organizations through the use of social science theory, action research, and behaviorally based data collection and feedback techniques.
Regardless of the definition that one subscribes to, however, it should be apparent when reviewing these definitions that although they differ on several important dimensions-for example, some focus on the importance of technology in the change process, whereas others explicitly mention top management support, and still others reference values explicitly-they share common components as well. Given the nature of these definitions and our collective consulting experience in and exposure to others in the field over the past decade, it is our view that OD should be conceptualized as representing three essential components.
First and perhaps foremost, OD is fundamentally a data-driven process; diagnosis and intervention are based on some form of behaviorally relevant data (such as observations, assessments, and surveys) collected through a process known as action research. Second, the OD model represents a total systems approach to organizational change in which this change is a formal and planned response to targeted organization-wide issues, problems, and challenges. Finally, although this component is controversial and by no means universally accepted as yet (Church, Burke, & Van Eynde, 1994), we strongly believe that values represent a third key component to the field. OD is (or should be) a normative and humanistic values-based approach to organizational improvement. In short, from our perspective, OD work should be focused on and conducted for the good of the individual, as well as the good of the organization. Although balancing issues of effectiveness and profitability are certainly important for economic success and survival, we would argue that an OD approach does not prioritize these concerns over the human perspective. This emphasis represents our firm belief, as well as of most of the other practitioners writing in this book, and is without a doubt one of the key differentiators of the field of OD from other types of organizational consultants in the field today (Church, Waclawski, & Siegal, 1996; Margulies & Raia, 1990).
Next, we describe each these basic conceptual areas that we feel represent and characterize the field as a whole. Although these points have been made elsewhere in the context of using multisource feedback for organization development (Church, Waclawski, & Burke, 2001), because they apply to the entire field, it is important to describe them in this broader context as well.
OD as a Data-Driven Process Using Action Research
One of the most basic notions behind OD is that change and improvement are conducted through a data-based process known as action research. Kurt Lewin, who first conceptualized action research (1946) and has often been credited as saying that "there can be no action without research and no research without action," was truly one of the first scientist-practitioners in the social sciences and a major contributor to much of the thinking underlying OD theory and practice (Burke, 1982; French & Bell, 1990).
In OD work, action research entails systematically gathering data of whatever form, quantitative or qualitative, on the nature of a particular problem or situation, analyzing the data to find central themes and patterns, feeding back a summary and analysis of the data in some participative form, and then taking action based on what the analysis of the data and resulting diagnosis of the situation suggest (Church, Waclawski, & Burke, 2001). Given this framework, it is easy to see how both the classic and more contemporary OD tools and techniques described in this book meet the criterion of being data-driven OD, because they collect and apply information for various problem-solving and improvement purposes. Organization surveys, multisource feedback, focus groups and interviews, personality assessments, process observations and consultation, action learning, appreciative inquiry, and large-scale interventions all fall squarely within this framework. They follow the progression of steps outlined in the basic action research approach from data collection, through diagnosis, to taking action for improvement.
The process by which data are used to drive change is a relatively simple one. Lewin, a social psychologist who specialized in studying group dynamics, asserted that individual and organizational transformation is best described as a three-stage process (see Figure 1.1).
In the first stage, unfreezing, the goal is to create motivation or a readiness for change (Church, Waclawski, & Burke, 2001). In most cases in OD practice, this translates to surfacing dissatisfaction with the current state and identifying a better or more desirable alternative, which is commonly referred to in OD terms as the ideal or desired future state (see Beckhard & Harris, 1987). An analogy from everyday life is dieting. Most people go on a diet because they are unhappy with their weight. It is this dissatisfaction with the current situation, coupled with a vision of a better future state of weighing less and therefore being healthier and looking better, that motivates them to change their eating behavior.
The second stage in Lewin's model, movement, consists of making changes and engaging in new behaviors to help make the desired future state a reality. In short, once the need for change has been realized, steps toward achieving a new and better state must be taken. In the dieting example, this would represent the point at which the dieter makes a change in behavior-a reduction in caloric intake and an increase in exercise levels. In OD, the movement stage typically translates into focusing one's change efforts at three different levels: individual, group, and organizational.
The third stage, refreezing, requires establishing a system or process that will solidify (or refreeze) the new desired state. In the dieting example, this would mean making what people call a permanent lifestyle change, such that the new eating and exercise regimen becomes a permanent and normal part of everyday life. In OD, an example of the refreezing stage would be instilling a new reward and recognition program as a result of an organizational culture survey to reinforce a new and desired set of leadership behaviors. In reality, however, given the rapid pace of change experienced by most organizations today, refreezing occurs all too infrequently (Church, 2000b) if at all, and even when it does, it is not likely to last for very long before some other chaotic event affects the organization.
OD as a Total Systems Approach to Change
OD is fundamentally grounded in a social systems approach (Katz & Kahn, 1978).
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Table of Contents
|Part 1||Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Organization Development|
|1||Introduction and Overview of Organization Development as a Data-Driven Approach for Organizational Change||3|
|2||Multisource Feedback for Organization Development and Change||27|
|3||The Role of Personality Assessment in Organization Development||55|
|4||Surveys as a Tool for Organization Development and Change||78|
|5||Interviews and Focus Groups: Quintessential Organization Development Techniques||103|
|6||Organization Development and the Bottom Line: Linking Soft Measures and Hard Measures||127|
|Part 2||Process-Based Approaches to Organization Development|
|7||Process Consultation: A Cornerstone of Organization Development Practice||149|
|8||The Heart of It All: Group- and Team-Based Interventions in Organization Development||164|
|10||Appreciative Inquiry: The New Frontier||203|
|11||Understanding and Using Large System Interventions||222|
|Part 3||Major Developments in Organization Development|
|12||Organization Development and IT: Practicing OD in the Virtual World||245|
|13||Around the World: Organization Development in the International Context||266|
|14||Evaluating the Impact of Organization Development Interventions||286|
|15||Organization Development Ethics: Reconciling Tensions in OD Values||302|
|16||Voices from the Field: Future Directions for Organization Development||321|