What Is Organisational Development and Why Is It Important?

By |2017-11-11T07:15:06+08:00November 20th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

There are few words than cause fear as quickly as the word Change. Despite being anxiety inducing, it is the organisations that embrace change who survive; however, those who remain stagnant often fail. As Benjamin Franklin (2017) once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning”. But change for changes sake is just as fatal as no change at all.

So, what is organisational development and why is the term so deeply intertwined with change?
Organisational development is a broad topic with many facets; thus, making it challenging to assign an all-encompassing definition. Beckhard (1969) defines the concept as all the interventions used to increase organisational effectiveness and health. Tolbert and Hanafin (2006) build on this by arguing that the goal of organisational development is to attend to both human and organisational needs. A definition from Cheung-Judge and Holbeche (2011) identifies organisational development as a field of knowledge to guide the development of organisational effectiveness, especially during change.

Like how a doctor treats an ill patient, organisational development utilises an informed diagnosis to facilitate intentional change. For an organisation to design an effective organisational development plan, they need to understand what drives their unique organisation. For example, in the eyes of employees, what change and improvement is required? What leavers can be pulled to raise employee commitment, motivation and performance? The answer to these questions can be found in a customised organisational effectiveness survey.

The collection, analysis and feedback of data can be summarised as the diagnostic phase of organisational development. The aim is to generate sufficient data so that it becomes the catalyst for change (Tschudy, 2006). Organisational effectiveness surveys provide such a mechanism for developing these insights. They help highlight the effectiveness of an organisations structures and processes; enabling us to translate employee feedback into business improvement and performance.

If you would like to try a more customisable approach to measuring employee engagement and organisational effectiveness, one that is designed specifically for your unique context, please do reach out to your local OPRA Psychology Group team. Together we can explore your organisation’s unique needs and future direction to design a survey that supports your longer-term organisational development and performance.


Beckhard, R (1969). Organisation Development: Strategies and models. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Cheung-Judge, M. Y. & Holbeche, L. (2015). Organization development: a practitioner’s guide for OD and HR. Kogan Page Publishers.

Quote By Benjamin Franklin. (n.d.). Quotery. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from http://www.quotery.com/quotes/without-continual-growth-and-progress-such-words-as-improvement-achievement/

Tolbert, M. A. & Hanafin, J (2006). Use of self in OD consulting: What matters is presence, in B. B. Jones & M. Brazzel. (Eds.), The NTL Handbook of Organisation Development and Change: Principles, practices and perspectives. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 69-82.

Tschudy, T. (2006). An OD map: The essence of organization development. The NTL handbook of organization development and change: Principles, practices, and perspectives. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer, 157-176.

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