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What is Organisational Development?

Are you DOing OD?

There is often confusion around whether businesses should maintain firm boundaries between HR and OD. However, I wonder if HR practitioners understand and appreciate when they are already applying OD to solve a problem. I wonder if it is understood which problems require an OD solution as opposed to an HR solution.

Historically, Human Resources professionals have primarily been concerned with the efficient management of the employment process, from recruitment to exit. HR also focused on helping the organisation comply with governmental regulations and in mitigating employment-related risks.

HR often finds itself acting in a support role to the other business functions. Consequently, HR’s culture is mostly transactional and process-and-compliance-oriented in its thinking.

Organisational Development was created as a way of applying behavioural science to help organisations improve individuals and systems.

Traditionally, HR professionals looked at checklists and manuals in order to perform their functions.

OD professionals use data and research in order to identify issues, the root causes and solutions for improvement.

Historically, Organisational Development has sought to:

  • Align human behaviour with the organisation’s strategy, structures, processes and business objectives

  • Maximize employees’ potential and help them amplify their contributions for the organisation’s success

  • Embed the organisation’s values throughout the workplace

  • Assess and diagnose what is happening within an organisation and conduct an intervention to create positive and sustainable change

  • Improve organisational effectiveness through processes and protocols, in adherence to the organisation’s culture and values

Meanwhile, Human Resources was working on:

  • Ensuring legal compliance

  • Enforcing policies and procedures

  • Reducing labour costs

  • Confirming there is “enough” equity and diversity

  • Managing the hiring, retention, and performance processes

  • Mitigating employment-related risks and employee relations issues

  • Promoting workplace health and safety

HR and OD working together


Organisational Development has more in common with leadership and management theory than it does with HR’s risk-managing legacy.

In today’s modern and pandemic affected economy, the ability to improve the organisations performance is dependent on how an organisation’s talent performs.

For the success of your business


OD’s objective is to help people function better within an organisational context.

Organisational Development provides ways of implementing purposeful and meaningful change.

Successful businesses will be those that build an effective staff experience that helps them attract and retain the right talent.

What is Organisational Development?: Resources
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