Applying criteria to goals
Here the leadership establishes objective criteria for the outputs of the organization's goal-setting processes. Then they hold people accountable not only for stating goals against those criteria but also for producing the desired results.
Establishing inter-unit task forces
These groups can cross both functional parts of the organization (the "silos") as well as employee levels. They are ideally accountable to one person and are appropriately rewarded for completing their assigned task effectively. Then they disband.
Experimentation with alternative arrangements
Today organizations are subject to "management by best-seller." The OD practitioner attempts to get leaders to look for changes that may take 3-5 years to work through. The meta-goal in these interventions is to create what is being called a "learning organization," one that performs experiments on organizational structure and processes, analyzes the results, and builds on them.
Identifying "key communicators"
The OD professional here carefully determines who seems to be "in the know" within the organization. These people often do not know that they are, in fact, key communicators. This collection of individuals are then fed honest information during critical times, one-on-one and confidentially.
Identifying "fireable offenses"
This intervention deepens the understanding of and commitment to the stated values of the organization. The OD professional facilitates the work of the organization's leaders to answer the critical question, "If we're serious about these values, then what might an employee do that would be so affrontive to them that he/she would be fired?"
This is actually a set of interventions that leaders plan with OD's help in order to "acculturate" everyone in the organization into an agreed-upon vision, mission, purpose, and values. The interventions might include training, goal setting, organizational survey-feedback, communications planning, etc.
This intervention can take many forms. The most common is interviews and other prework, followed by a one- to three-day offsite session. During the meeting the group diagnoses its function as a unit and plans improvements in its operating procedures See J. E. Jones & W. L. Bearley, TEAMBOOK, published by HRDQ, for a catalog of team-building interventions.
Intergroup Problem Solving
This intervention usually involves working with the two groups separately before bringing them together. They establish common goals and negotiate changes in how the groups interface. [See J. E. Jones & W. L. Bearley, Intergroup Diagnostic Survey, published by HRDQ, for a catalog of intergroup interventions.
Many OD professionals come from a training background. They understand that organizations cannot succeed long term without well-trained leaders. The OD contribution there can be to ensure that the development curriculum emphasizes practical, current situations that need attention within the organization and to monitor the degree to which training delivery is sufficiently participative as to promise adequate transfer of learnings to the job.
Setting up measurement systems
The total-quality movement emphasizes that all work is a part of a process and that measurement is essential for process improvement. The OD professional is equipped with tools and techniques to assist leaders and others to create measurement methods and systems to monitor key success indicators.
Studies of structural causes
"Root-cause analysis" is a time-honored quality-improvement tool, and OD practitioners often use it to assist organizational clients to learn how to get down to the basis causes of problems.
This technology is probably the most powerful way that OD professionals involve very large numbers of people in diagnosing situations that need attention within the organization and to plan and implement improvements. The general method requires developing reliable, valid questionnaires, collecting data from all personnel, analyzing it for trends, and feeding the results back to everyone for action planning.
Most organizations have at least some leaders who "say one thing and do another." This intervention, which can be highly threatening, concentrates on measuring the extent to which the people within the organization are behaving with integrity.
This article covers the most common OD interventions. Every practitioner augments this list with both specially designed interventions that meet the precise needs of clients and with other, more complex interventions such as large-group sessions, and other popular programs. It is important, however, that all OD professionals be completely grounded in these basic interventions.
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