Organisation Development

by Rosie Stevens

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Other topics


Given that OD is in itself about change and OD strategies are often designed as part of, or alongside, a major change initiative, this topic gives some helpful guidance on a range of important change theories, frameworks and issues, including:

  • Encouraging participation (essential in the diagnostic, design and implementation phases
  • Methods/tools that have succeeded in the past
  • The change curve, which helps managers and their people to understand instinctive human responses to change over a period of time. It is useful for managers to consider, at each different stage of the transition curve, what might be done to help people who are demonstrating that they are in that particular phase at the moment.

Political Intelligence

Anyone involved in developing and/or implementing an OD strategy needs to have a political awareness about the organisation with which they are working, so they know who are the key stakeholders, the key influencers, the power-brokers, the best networkers and (if there are any) the game-players and those who seek to undermine change efforts. This topic is very useful in this context and covers a range of issues including

  • The political intelligence model
  • Your goals
  • Your profile
  • Communications, influencing and networking.

Performance Management

OD is a strategic intervention, or a number of related strategic interventions, within which there is likely to be a significant investment of time and resource. It is essential that goals and objectives are clearly defined at the start and that success is reviewed and measured in terms of progress and achievement against the original vision, goals, objectives and desired culture change, outputs and outcomes. It is also important to devise evaluation methods for specific interventions. This topic gives guidance and help on many useful related areas, but in particular

  • Strategic goals
  • Business processes
  • Benchmarking
  • Agreeing targets and measuring the journey.

Questioning skills

If you are going to be involved in any part of the diagnostic or design phases, whether working with people on a one-to-one basis or working with groups, this topic helpfully and clearly outlines a number of different types of questioning approaches, including some that are often not found in the standard reference material or courses, with helpful and concise examples.


Answers to questions most frequently asked about Organisation Development

Philip G Hanson and Bernard Lubin, published by Sage Publications, 1995, 200 pages

This book contains a series of two-page articles on almost every topic that comes under the umbrella of Organisation Development. It also contains a useful reading list, should readers want to further explore a particular topic.

Organisation Development: principles and practices

W Warner Burke, published by Little/Brown, 1982, 402 pages

This book is one of many written by one of the best-known OD experts in the world. It details the full history of Organisation Development, covers Action Research and gives helpful case examples.

Organisation change: theory and practice

W Warner Burke, published by Sage Publications, 2007 (second edition), 352 pages

This is another book by W Warner Burke, which provides an overview of the theory and research behind our current understanding of organisational change. It examines various change models, including one developed by the Warner Burke in conjunction with Litwin and uses case studies to demonstrate how these models can be used to diagnose change issues in organisations.

Appreciative inquiry: Change at the speed of imagination

Jane Magruder Watkins and Bernard J Mohr, published by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2011 (second edition), 300 pages

Written by two of the most prominent world experts and developers of AI, this book is a practical guide to Appreciative Inquiry for leaders and Organisation Development practitioners. It covers a range of approaches and is peppered with useful case examples.

Large group interventions: engaging the whole system for rapid change

Barbara Benedict Bunker and Billie T Alban, published by Jossey-Bass, 1997, 272 pages

This book covers the history, theory, practice and examples of the range of Large Group Interventions, designed to engage the whole system in rapid change. The authors differentiate the principles, approaches and processes of each individual type of intervention and provide effective leadership tools for change.

Real time strategic change: how to involve an entire organisation in fast and far-reaching change

Robert W Jacobs, published by Berrett-Koehler Publications Inc, 1994, 335 pages

An easy-to-read step-by-step guide to the large group intervention known as Real Time Strategic Change. It covers the history and theory behind its development and gives detailed guidance and processes for the planning and delivery of an intervention, with a range of case studies and examples of different processes to use during the event.

Open space technology: a user’s guide

Harrison Owen, published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc, 2008 (third edition), 192 pages

A really easy-to-read, illustrated guide to using the large group intervention called Open Space. Harrison Owen was the original developer of Open Space and describes its origins and development, as well as very simply and entertainingly describing the preparation and processes to follow, with helpful examples and anecdotes.

Future search: an action guide to finding common ground in organisations and communities

Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff, published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2000 (sedond edition), 265 pages

Another accessible, illustrated ‘How to’ guide from two of the developers of the LGI known as future search. It includes in the introductory pages an overview of its development and its links with other LGIs.


One of the leading international management institutes and providers of excellent Organisation Development programmes, conferences and workshops. It is situated in beautiful and tranquil surroundings, on the edge of the Ashdown Forest, creating an ideal learning environment.

A useful website for finding out about particular topics of interest in the OD and learning fields.

The following websites provide an overview of a range of interventions described in the pages Large Group Interventions and Appreciative Inquiry.


You can also contact the author directly: Rosie Stevens