Thursday, March 7, 2013

Is OD still dead? Did Change Management kill OD?

So I attended 2 webinars by Roland Sullivan in the past few weeks.  He is one of the editors of "Practicing Organization Development."  In 2009, Wiley published the 3rd edition.  Roland tells me he is currently working on the 4th edition.

That tells me that the book is still selling.  Wiley does not publish books for the fun of it.
What really struck me was a conversation I had with Roland in January when he described how his work has evolved since we last hung out together about 10 years ago.  I learned that he ...

almost exclusively works with the LEADERSHIP
in his change initiatives.

If he thinks the leadership team is not ready, he tells them they are not ready and to call him back if and when they are ready.  Some do not call him back, others do, but have taken 2 or 3 years to get back to him.  That's pretty hardcore!

Anyway, what Roland reminded me of was the wisdom in Robert (Jake) Jacobs RTSC model:

As you can see, Jake has 3 phases of change work:  

  1. Scoping,
  2. Leadership alignment, and
  3. Organization-wide alignment.
As I look at this model (depiction from Julie Beedon in the UK), I see Leadership Alignment in the center ... the heart of the model.  Well, that's what I picked up from Roland -- leadership team work is now the heart of his change work.

While Michael Beitler, author of Strategic Organizational Change, declared that OD was dead in 2008 & Christopher Worley (co-author of another Organizational Development & Change text about to go into its 10th edition) questioned whether or not OD was relevant more than a decade ago, I do see some differences between OD and CM that leave me thinking that CM is insufficient.

For example, 

do you see leadership development at the
heart of change management?

Let me know if you do because I'm not seeing it.  There is no question that OD and CM are different.  I see value in both; I integrate the two in the way I do change work.


  1. No, I don't see Leadership Development at the heart of change management. Leadership alignment seems to assume dialog, conversation, discovery. That may be simply teamwork, at the top management level, and effective use of influence and power.

    Peter Drucker, after all, raises the question that there may not be actually any such thing as leadership. It may be influence, use of power and followership.


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