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Organizational Development

What is Organizational Development?

Organizational development is the use of management processes, strategy, structure, metrics, and rewards to create and promote organizational effectiveness within a business. The organizational development process is typically used to grow HR but can be used to help all departments within a business.

The Organizational Development Process Cycle

The organizational development process is used to help make improvements and solve problems or situations that arise within an organization. The process’s steps are generally broad, easily understood, and help to provide companies strategic planning to quickly make changes to avert or get to the bottom of issues. Typically, businesses or groups will bring in an organizational development consultant to assist with difficult elements and provide a third-party perspective.

Organizational Development

Below are common organizational development steps businesses often follow:

  • Organizational development can only begin once a problem has been identified.
  • Without a proper understanding of the situation, potential solutions may fall short in key areas and create new problems.   
  • The plan of action should have input from every party affected by the issue being solved to ensure everyone is on the same page and that there won’t be unintended effects once the plan goes live.
  • Do not limit your plan of action simply because it will be difficult to implement; difficulty and complexity should not be vices as true, positive organizational change only comes about through hard work and a willingness to accept change.
  • Gather data from the areas of the organization affected by the plan with the purpose of determining success.
  • Analyze the gathered data to see if the plan solved the initial problem, if the problem was made worse, or if the plan did nothing. This is also when an organization can determine if the plan resulted in negative, secondary, or other unforeseen changes. 
  • Review feedback from all impacted parties as a plan can work on paper but have unpredicted impacts on personnel. Perhaps a plan of action solved the intended problem but resulted in working conditions negatively effecting employees; gathering employee feedback is the only way to find out every way the plan affected personnel.
  • If the first attempt at reforming a company’s organizational structure is unsuccessful, try again with a different plan or focus. If the first plan was successful, that becomes the new standard for future organization development projects.

Types of Organizational Development Models

The organizational development process can be repeated as many times as necessary. The type of model you use should be determined by your organization’s needs and culture. With that in mind, there are a few different organizational development models that are effective, each with their own characteristics and specialties.

The Three Step-Model of Change 

The three-step model of change was first introduced in 1947 by Kurt Lewin as one part of a four-part plan to approach change. As the name suggests, this model functions in three stages:

  1. Unfreezing: This stage seeks to remove the forces maintaining the status quo or to prepare people for greater change
  2. Moving: This stage heavily requires employee engagement. It focuses on assuring people that the change being enacted is good and explaining why the change is taking place by actively engaging personnel in the transition process.
  3. Refreezing: In the final stage, the organizational changes are implemented and reinforced until the changes are accepted by the status quo.

The Action Research Model

The action research model is also attributed to Kurt Lewin and is based on a progression of eight steps:

  1. Problem identification
  2. Consulting with a behavioral science expert
  3. Data gathering and preliminary diagnosis
  4. Feedback to client
  5. Joint diagnosis of the problem
  6. Joint action planning
  7. Action
  8. Data gathering after action

The action research model is one of the organizational development models that follows a commonsense progression with each step title being largely self-explanatory.

The Appreciative Inquiry Model

The appreciative inquiry model was originally proposed in 1987 with strong roots in social constructivism and focuses on appreciating the existing capabilities within an organization to develop better practices.

For example, if an organization wants to improve its customer satisfaction, they will start the discovery stage by reviewing instances where customers were satisfied rather than dissatisfied in their experience.

The model functions in four stages:

  • Discover: This stage usually starts with reflections on the best parts of the area in question.
  • Dream: This stage is where involved parties visualize their ideal end scenario in relation to the subject being discussed and altered.
  • Design: This stage is when concrete proposals come together and where the team sets about creating their dream outcome.
  • Deliver: This stage is when the changes are enacted to move the organization towards the dream reality and the cycle of questioning what is best begins again.

The General Model of Planned Change

Cumming and Worley took the above three models as inspiration and in 2009, they created the general model of planned change. This model features four stages:

  • Entering and contracting
  • Diagnosis and feedback
  • Planning and implementation
  • Evaluation and institutionalization

The stages are appropriately named as each stage title describes the actions taken during each stage. Entering and contracting is when the problem is identified, and all teams agree change should take place. The diagnosis and feedback stage involves gathering data to better understand the current situation and establishing what actions must be taken to facilitate the desired changes. The planning and implementation stage is when planned changes are rolled out with the evaluation and institutionalization following closely after to determine the effects of the organizational changes and decide what changes should be kept, modified, or repealed.

Why Do You Need Organizational Development Consulting?

Organization and leadership development have become the cornerstones of many human resources or learning departments. This change has a huge impact on your business development. With the competitive advantage of organizational development models, you can better structure change, so the transition is smooth for all parties. Effective and successful organizational development is challenging to create and by consulting with an expert organizational development consultant from SkillSource Learning Partners, your business can simplify the process and see progress quicker. Our consultants are experts in crafting a comprehensive development plan and always thrive to help clients to achieve their organizational goals through our consulting services. On top of that, we stay engaged throughout the project to make sure that your investment in organizational development will give you a significant result.

Activities That Our OD Consultants Typically Perform


  • Analyzing, developing, and implementing competency models.
  • Recommending and implementing performance management process design improvements.


  • Designing and developing leadership development programs.
  • Creating new leader onboarding programs.
  • Designing and developing team building initiatives.


  • Conducting executive and team coaching.
  • Administering personality assessments.
  • Implementing succession planning models.
  • Implementing 360° assessments.
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