Achieve Your Potential
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Achieve Your Potential with Organizational Development

Organization development is a deliberately planned effort to increase an organization’s effectiveness. I kept thinking about this broad description as I trudged through my workout at the health club recently—free weights, sit-ups, pushups and 30 minutes on the treadmill—when it occurred to me that Organizational Development (OD) is just like exercising: it’s body building for the organization.

Athletes, even in the best of shape, follow a strict exercise regime. They keep their body fit for the long run. And non-athlete, health-conscious adults exercise and eat well as a preventative measure. Organizations need to adopt this same kind of thinking.

Organizations need to weather economic stresses and unexpected infirmity like financial recession, employee attrition, budget cuts and other elements that could pose a threat to an organization. Strong organizations develop their people—invigorating them to perform most effectively. Employee development, management training and succession planning all focus on an organization’s core, their people—their most vital internal assets.

Some would argue that OD is not about training, human resource or team development. Theorists and OD practitioners generally look at the structure of a current organization to ensure it is positioned to absorb disruptive forces and changing market environments. They focus on the processes and systems that are inextricably linked to the people inside and outside of the organization. The organization is a complex system of financial, research and development, marketing, sales and customer service operations.

People and process are both important, just like diet and exercise. The best-run organization assesses its core strength, vitality, pulse and temperature on a regular basis. Annual analyses and reviews are the annual physical. The doctor’s orders maintain organizational health and wellness.

When was the last check-up? How recently did your organization evaluate internal systems and processes? How are your employee and customer satisfaction ratings? What internal structures need to be refreshed and revitalized to ensure their responsiveness and to better manage change?

Sometimes, it’s hard to get to the gym—especially when we are so busy with the challenges of our daily business. But that is when we need it the most. A healthy body will be stronger and more resistant to stress. As leaders, we need to get our organizations strong and vital to compete effectively.

How can your organization improve with the right development initiatives in place? Let’s continue the conversation.

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