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Organizational Development: Strategies, Process, and Benefits

Learn the strategies of Organizational development to improve the overall performance of your business.

Published by Orgvue 

What is Organizational Development?

Organizational development, also known as OD, is more than just a buzzword in the business world; it’s a systematic and strategic approach that is crucial for companies aiming to achieve long-term success and sustainability. This approach dives deep into the heart of an organization, ensuring that it not only achieves its desired outputs but also thrives in an ever-evolving market.

At its core, organizational development focuses on improving an organization’s efficiency and effectiveness, thereby enhancing its overall performance and increasing its capability to manage current tasks and future challenges. It delves into strategies that fortify the skills, knowledge, and capabilities of every member of the organization, from top-level executives to entry-level employees.

What sets it apart from other management strategies is its holistic approach. While many strategies might focus on short-term goals or specific aspects of an organization, organizational development is about long-term, sustainable improvement at every level.

The Link Between Organizational Development and Design

Organizational development doesn’t exist in isolation; it’s deeply interconnected with organizational design, another pivotal aspect of ensuring an organization thrives.

Organizational design, as the name suggests, revolves around crafting the perfect structure for an organization. This includes ensuring that roles are defined clearly, workflows are streamlined, and every structural element of the organization aligns perfectly with its objectives and goals. Think of it as the blueprint of a building, detailing how each section interacts and supports the other.

Meanwhile, organizational development ensures that the people within this structure – the inhabitants of our metaphorical building – are well-equipped and aligned with the organizational strategy. It ensures that the correct training, culture, and communication systems are in place so everyone works harmoniously towards the organization’s goals.

In essence, while organizational design lays out the plan, organizational development brings that plan to life. One is about structure, the other about growth, and together they are indispensable for any organization aiming for lasting success.

Benefits of Organizational Development

Organizational development is the proactive effort and structured approach to improve an organization’s effectiveness and viability. The many benefits of OD, especially when combined with organizational design, are vast and include:

  • Employee Satisfaction and Retention: At the heart of organizational development is the well-being and sustained contentment of employees. Organizational design complements this by ensuring the structure of the organization supports the needs and aspirations of its employees. When individuals clearly understand their roles, responsibilities, and the flow of information, they feel more connected and committed, leading to greater retention.
  • Increased Productivity: Organizational design lays the groundwork for efficient and effective workflows. By creating clear and concise hierarchies, defining specific and measurable roles, and ensuring open and transparent communication channels, employees can work seamlessly and efficiently, thus enhancing productivity. With the backing of organizational development principles, this setup ensures these workflows align with the organization’s goals and values.
  • Streamlined Processes: While organizational development can identify and rectify inefficiencies, holistic organizational design puts in place effective systems and structures that prevent such inefficiencies from arising in the first place. Whether it’s the creation of collaborative cross-functional teams or establishing a flexible matrix structure, a well-thought-out design can ensure efficient resource allocation and timely process flow.
  • Enhanced Decision-making: A strong organizational design defines clear decision-making paths, empowers decision-makers, promotes collaboration, and rewards good decision-making. By ensuring that decisions are made at the right levels and by the right people, coupled with organizational development’s emphasis on open communication, organizations can ensure faster, better-quality decisions that resonate with the company’s mission.
  • Adaptability: Organizational design plays a crucial role in ensuring flexibility. By regularly revisiting and refining the organization’s structure, companies can remain agile, making them better equipped to handle industry shifts and market changes. Combined with OD’s broader strategies, this ensures that organizations remain resilient and proactive in the face of change.
  • Sustainable Growth: Organizational design, when aligned with OD principles, and accountable to stakeholders, ensures that growth isn’t just achievable but scalable and sustainable. As companies expand, their structures may need regular re-evaluation and realignment. A design that promotes collaboration and continuous learning ensures that growth doesn’t come at the cost of efficiency or employee well-being.

Key Organizational Development Strategies

Organizational Development Strategies:

  1. Leadership Development: Train and mentor leaders to drive change and improve .
  2. Employee Empowerment: Empower employees to own their work and be part of decision-making.
  3. Change Management: Manage change by communicating, involving stakeholders, and supporting employees.
  4. Performance Management: Set clear goals and give regular feedback to help employees succeed.
  5. Culture Building: Build a culture that values innovation, collaboration, and learning.
  6. Team Building: Invest in activities that improve communication, collaboration, and trust among teams.
  7. Strategic Planning: Develop a flexible plan that guides the organization’s mission and goals.
  8. Organizational Design: Align structure, roles, and responsibilities with goals for efficiency.
  9. Learning and Development: Provide ongoing training to keep up with market trends.
  10. Employee Engagement: Create a positive work environment that recognizes achievements and promotes balance.

Leadership Development

In the realm of organizational development, leadership plays a pivotal role. A ship can’t sail smoothly without a skilled captain and, similarly, an organization can’t progress without adept leaders guiding the way.

Organizational development and design interconnect in many ways, primarily through how leaders shape and guide their organizations. Both fields focus on driving performance, enhancing efficiency, and fostering innovation within an organization. However, while organizational design lays the structural foundation, organizational development ensures people, culture, and leadership are all aligned and primed for success. Leadership development, thus, becomes a crucial piece of the puzzle, bridging the gap between strategy and execution.

Role of Leaders in Organizational Development

Leaders are the visionaries, the torchbearers of any organization. They are responsible for:

  1. Setting Direction: Leaders are responsible for determining in which direction an organization should move. They ensure that the organizational goals align with its mission and vision. This involves identifying opportunities, assessing threats, and developing strategies to achieve the organization’s goals.
  2. Shaping Culture: Through their actions and decisions, leaders set the tone for organizational culture. They determine what behaviors are rewarded, which are discouraged, and how the organization responds to challenges. This involves creating a culture of trust, respect, and collaboration, where employees feel empowered to take risks and innovate.
  3. Driving Change: As agents of change, leaders initiate and manage transformations within an organization, ensuring the company adapts and grows in a rapidly changing business environment. This involves identifying the need for change, developing a plan for change, and leading the organization through the change process.

In addition to these three key roles, leaders also play a vital role in:

  • Motivating and inspiring employees: Leaders create a sense of purpose and excitement among employees, motivating them to achieve the organization’s goals.
  • Building and developing teams: Leaders create and foster high-performing teams, where employees feel supported and valued.
  • Managing conflict: Leaders effectively manage conflict, resolving disagreements in a way that is constructive and productive.
  • Communicating effectively: Leaders communicate effectively with employees, stakeholders, and the public. They are clear, concise, and transparent in their communication.
  • Making decisions: Leaders make sound decisions that are in the organization’s best interests. They are decisive and take responsibility for their decisions.

Developing a Leadership Strategy

A comprehensive leadership strategy is essential in ensuring the organization’s success. This strategy includes 3 key elements:

  1. Succession planning: This ensures a continuous supply of potential leaders ready to take on new roles as they arise. This can be done by identifying high-potential employees, providing them with development opportunities, and creating a pipeline for them to move into leadership roles.
  2. Diversity and inclusion: Ensuring diverse representation in leadership roles brings various perspectives, driving innovation and better decision-making. This can be done by actively recruiting and hiring diverse candidates, creating a culture of inclusion, and providing unconscious bias training to all employees.
  3. Continuous feedback loop: Implementing systems for regular feedback helps leaders understand their strengths and areas for improvement, through formal performance reviews, 360-degree feedback, and informal coaching conversations.

In addition to these three key elements, a comprehensive leadership strategy should also address the following:

  • Leadership development: Providing leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their roles, through formal training programs, on-the-job learning, and coaching.
  • Leadership culture: Creating a culture that supports and values leadership, by emphasizing teamwork, collaboration, and innovation.
  • Leadership measurement: Measuring the effectiveness of the leadership strategy and making adjustments as needed, by tracking metrics such as employee engagement, retention, and customer satisfaction.

Developing Leadership Skills

Skill development is a continuous process. For leaders, this means:

  1. Soft Skills Training: While technical expertise is important, soft skills like emotional intelligence, communication, and collaboration are essential for leadership roles.
  2. Experiential Learning: Real-world experiences, such as leading a new initiative or managing a team, provide invaluable lessons for emerging leaders.
  3. Mentorship and Coaching: Pairing less experienced leaders with seasoned veterans can provide insights, guidance, and perspective that formal training might miss.

Challenges with Leadership Development

While the importance of leadership development is widely recognised, it comes with its set of challenges:

  1. One-Size-Fits-All Approach: Every individual has unique strengths and areas for growth. Generic leadership programs often don’t cater to these individual needs.
  2. Time Constraints: Developing leadership skills is a long-term investment. In the fast-paced corporate world, dedicating time to development can often be challenging.
  3. Measuring ROI: Quantifying the returns on leadership development initiatives can be tricky. While the benefits are undeniable, they might not be immediately tangible.

Organizational Development Across Departments

In the vast and intricate structure of a modern-day organization, every department has a unique role and responsibility. However, they all contribute collectively to the overarching goal of the organization. Organizational Development has a pivotal role in ensuring that every department is aligned, efficient, and effective in achieving those goals.

While organizational design focuses on structuring roles, responsibilities, and processes to achieve company objectives, organizational development ensures that the culture, people, and capabilities are in place to support that design. Without effective development, the design can’t be executed properly, and without a purposeful design development efforts can become directionless.

Each department, from HR to Finance to Strategy, is influenced by design and development. However, the impact and approach of organizational development may vary from one department to another based on their function and needs.

What is Organizational Development in HR?

In the Human Resources (HR) realm, organizational development is about ensuring that employees have the required skills, competencies, and attitudes to meet the organization’s goals. It encompasses training and development, change management, leadership development, and more.

Organizational development in HR is about creating a workplace where employees are motivated, productive, and aligned with the organization’s values. It’s about fostering a culture of continuous learning and ensuring that feedback mechanisms are in place for continuous improvement.

For instance, if the organization’s design requires a shift towards a more digitized working environment, HR’s role through organizational development would be to ensure employees are equipped with the necessary skills, through training and development programs, to navigate and flourish in this new environment.

Every department, be it Marketing, IT, or Sales, has its own set of development needs. However, a harmonious synchronization between organizational design and development ensures that all departments evolve cohesively, heading in the same strategic direction.

If you’re interested in understanding how departments like HR, Finance, and Strategy need to evolve for the organizational design of the future, read our in-depth article on the subject.

The Organizational Development Process

A structured organizational development process ensures change is not only effective but also sustainable. For a roadmap to effective organizational development and change, here’s a breakdown of the crucial steps involved in the process:

  1. Diagnosis and Analysis Stage: This is the foundation of any organizational development process. In this stage, you assess the organization’s current situation to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By understanding where your organization stands, you can pinpoint areas that need attention. Think of it as a health check-up for your organization. Just as doctors use advanced diagnostic tools to understand a patient’s health, organizational design software can be used to analyze workforce data and provide insights into organizational health.
  2. Intervention and Implementation Stage: After the thorough analysis, this stage is about acting on the insights. Whether it’s a change in leadership practices, introducing new technologies, or redefining job roles, interventions are tailored solutions designed to address specific issues. But remember, interventions are not one-size-fits-all; they should be customized, based on the insights from the diagnostic stage and must align with the broader organizational design to ensure harmony and efficiency.
  3. Evaluation and Follow-up Stage: Change doesn’t end with implementation. It’s vital to measure the impact of the interventions. This stage involves assessing the changes to be made, ensuring they yield the desired results, and making necessary adjustments. Just as patients go for follow-up visits after treatment, organizations must revisit and re-evaluate to ensure their strategies remain effective and relevant.

As you journey through the stages, ensure you’re equipped with the right tools. Organizational design software empowers you to analyze your workforce, model changes swiftly, and execute a robust plan in alignment with your business objectives.


Organizational development and design are intrinsically linked, shaping a foundation for sustainable growth and adaptability. As design outlines the structural blueprint, development energizes it with purpose and capability. At the heart of this are leaders, weaving together strategy and action. The organizational development process unfolds in three crucial stages: diagnosing the current scenario, implementing tailored interventions, and ongoing evaluation. Embracing this process and its interconnection with design is vital for any organization aiming for lasting success and growth.

Organizational Development FAQs

How can organizational development be assessed?

The success of OD efforts can be assessed in several ways, including:
● Measuring changes in productivity, profitability, or other business metrics. This is the most common way to assess OD success, as it provides a clear and objective measure of the impact of the interventions.
● Surveying employees about their satisfaction with the organization, their work and their colleagues. This can provide insights into the impact of OD on employee morale, engagement, and productivity.
Conducting interviews with key stakeholders, such as managers, employees, and customers. This can provide qualitative feedback on the impact of OD on the organization.
Monitoring changes in the organization’s culture, climate, or structure. This can help determine whether the OD interventions have led to the desired changes in how the organization operates.

What are the characteristics of organizational development?

● Planned change: It’s a deliberate and systematic effort to improve an organization. It is not a spontaneous or haphazard process.
● Systems perspective: It views the organization as a system, with all parts interconnected. Changes in one part of the system will affect other parts of the system.
● Problem-oriented: It focuses on identifying and solving problems which are preventing the organization from achieving its goals.
● Humanistic approach: It believes that people are the most important asset of an organization. It seeks to create a workplace where people can be creative, productive, and fulfilled.
● Long-term focus: It’s a long-term process. It takes time to implement changes and see results.
● Data-driven: It relies on data and evidence to guide its interventions. It does not rely on guesswork or intuition.
● Participative: It involves all levels of the organization in the change process. This helps ensure changes are implemented effectively and that everyone is committed to them.
● Flexible: It’s flexible and adaptable. It can be customized to meet the specific needs of each organization.
● Continuous: It’s an ongoing process. It is not a one-time event.

When is organizational development likely to succeed?

In general, OD initiatives are more likely to succeed when they are well-planned, well-executed, and supported by all stakeholders. Here are some factors that contribute to the success of organizational development:
● Strong leadership support. OD initiatives are more likely to succeed when they have the full support of top leadership. This means that leaders must be willing to champion the change, provide resources, and remove any obstacles.
● Clear goals and objectives. The OD initiative should have clear goals and objectives that are aligned with the organization’s overall strategy, to help ensure the initiative is focused and productive.
● Employee involvement. Employees should be involved in the OD process from the beginning. This will help to build ownership and commitment to the change.
● Adequate resources. The OD initiative should have the necessary resources, such as time, money, and people, to be successful.
● Flexibility and adaptability. The OD initiative should be flexible and adaptable enough to respond to changing circumstances.
Evaluation and feedback. The OD initiative should be evaluated regularly to assess its progress and make necessary adjustments.

What are organizational development skills?

Here are some of the most important organizational development skills:

● Communication: Organizational development professionals need to be able to communicate effectively with a variety of stakeholders, including employees, managers, and executives. They need to be able to clearly articulate complex ideas and concepts and need to be able to listen and understand the needs of others.
● Problem-solving: Organizational development professionals must be able to identify and solve problems. They need to be able to think critically and creatively and to develop and implement solutions that are both effective and feasible.
● Project management: Organizational development professionals often work on projects that involve multiple stakeholders and complex tasks. They need to be able to manage projects effectively, ensuring they are completed on time, within budget, and to the desired quality standards.
● Data analysis: Organizational development professionals often use data to make decisions and improve organizational performance. They need to be capable of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data effectively.
● Change management: Organizational development professionals often work to help organizations change and improve. They must understand the dynamics of change and help people cope with change.
● Coaching and facilitation: Organizational development professionals often coach and facilitate groups of people. They need to create a safe and supportive environment for learning and development and to help people work together effectively.
● Interpersonal skills: Organizational development professionals need to be able to build relationships, work effectively with others, and be empathetic, collaborative, and trustworthy.
These are just some of the most important organizational development skills. The specific skills needed will vary depending on the specific role and the organization. However, all organizational development professionals must have strong communication, problem-solving, and project management skills.

What are organizational development key performance indicators?

Organizational development key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that measure the effectiveness of an organization’s OD initiatives. These initiatives can focus on a variety of areas, such as employee engagement, leadership development, or culture change.
Some common OD KPIs include:
● Employee engagement: This measures how involved and committed employees are to their work and the organization.
● Leadership development: This measures the effectiveness of leadership training and development programs.
● Culture change: This measures the progress of an organization’s efforts to change its culture.
● Customer satisfaction: This measures how satisfied customers are with the organization’s products or services.
Financial performance: This measures the organization’s financial health, such as its profitability and revenue growth.

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