Components of OD

Components of OD

All the OD programs have three basic components: diagnosis, action and program management. All these three components are interventions into the organizations in that all impact organizations members. The diagnosis involves identifying strengths opportunities and problem areas.

Action plans are developed in the next step to correct the problem, seize opportunities and maintain areas of strength. The next step involves fact-finding about the results of the actions. If the actions have desired effects the organization members move on to new and different problems then the members initiate new action plans and interventions to resolve the issue.

However, the OD process requires attention directed toward ensuring that the program is supported by the organization members and is relevant to the organization’s priorities and contributes to the organization’s progress. Thus managing the OD program is a continuous activity.

OD Process

The OD process involves the following steps:

Diagnosing the System, its Sub-units and Processes

Organization development is at heart an action program based on valid information about the status quo, current problems, and opportunities, and effects of actions as they relate to achieving goals. An OD program thus starts with the diagnosis and employs data collecting and data analyzing throughout.

According to Beckhard diagnosis involves two areas:

  • The first area is the diagnosis of the various subsystems that make up the total organization.

  • The second area of diagnosis is the organization processes that are occurring which include decision-making processes, communication patterns and styles, the relationship between interacting groups etc.

In practice, the OD consultant collects detailed information about the target group and the processes. They pay special attention to organizational processes like strategic management, long-range planning, vision, mission formulation, organizational learning, etc.

Continual diagnosis is thus necessary for any planned change effort as it helps to compare the gap between actual and desired conditions. The success of the OD program depends on the result of the diagnostic activities which are important as to how the information is collected and what is to be done with the information etc.

The information can be collected from various sources like interviews, questionnaires, organization records and so on. The action component includes planning actions, executing actions and evaluating the consequences of the actions are an integral part of the organization’s development.

This emphasis on action planning and action taking is a powerful feature of OD and in some respect very distinguishing. There exist always a difference between learning and practicing. OD problem-solving interventions tend to focus on real problems central to the organization’s needs rather than on hypothetical problems that may or may not fit the member’s needs.

Action programs in OD are closely linked with explicit goals and objectives. Attention is given to translating goals into observable, explicit and measurable actions and equal care is given to ensuring that actions are relevant to and instrumental in attaining goals.

Diagnosis, action taking and goal-setting are all linked in OD programs. Diagnostic activities precede action programs; that is fact-finding provides a foundation for action. Actions are continuously evaluated for their contribution to goal accomplishment.

Organizational development is a continuous process of setting goals, collecting data and about the status quo, planning and taking actions based on hypothesis and the data, and evaluating the effects of action through additional data collection.

Program Management Component

OD practitioners apply behavioral science principles and practices to improve organizational functioning and individual development, they apply these same principles and practices as they manage OD programs. Managing OD programs effectively means the difference between success and failure. We specifically examine the phases in OD programs, several change management models and a procedure for creating parallel line structures.

Phases of OD Programs

OD programs follow a logical progression of events. Warner Burke describes the following phases of OD programs:

  • The entry represents the initial contact with the consultant and client.

  • Contracting involves establishing mutual expectations.

  • Diagnosis is the fact-finding phase which produces a picture of the situation through information.

  • Feedback-represents returning the analyzed information to the client system.

  • Planning Change-involves the client in deciding what action steps to be taken based.

  • Intervention-implements sets of actions designed to correct the problems or seize the opportunities

  • Evaluation-represents assessing the effects of the program i.e., was it successful or not?

The most important point here is that each phase build as the foundation for subsequent phases therefore each phase must be executed with care and precision.

Analyzing Discrepancies

A useful model for thinking about diagnosis and intervention could be termed discrepancy analysis-examining the discrepancies or gaps between what is happening and what should be happening and the discrepancies between where one is and where one wants to be. Discrepancies, therefore, define both problems and goals and OD is more than just problem-solving and goal seeking, a large part of any OD program is devoted to these two critical activities.

Model for Managing Change

Cumming and Worley identify five sets of activities required for the effective management of change:

  • Motivating change.

  • Creating a vision.

  • Developing political support.

  • Managing the transition.

  • Sustaining momentum.


Investortonight requires its writers to base their articles on primary sources. This includes government documents, data, direct observations, and interviews with industry leaders. Additionally, we also incorporate research from reputable sources when appropriate. Our editorial guidelines detail the standards we maintain to ensure unbiased and accurate content.

  • Richard Beckhard, Organizational Development: Strategies and Models.

  • Burke’s Organizational Development.

  • Kepner and Tregoe, The Rational Manager.

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