Organisation development (OD) is a planned, sustained and systemic change-effort to improve the efficacy and health of an organisation, through interventions developed with reference to behavioural science and system-theory. It is organisation-wide, and so must be led ‘from the top’, but if it is to be effective, an OD initiative must engage people throughout the ‘system’ being changed.
The values of OD are humanistic. It is about enabling people in organisations to function and flourish as human beings rather than as resources in a process of production. It is about intentionally creating an environment in which people are engaged as active and influential agents, in challenging and fulfilling work.
So, within the framework of these values, the objectives of an OD intervention might be to increase the level of trust among employees, to confront problems and manage conflicts instead of neglecting or ignoring them, to improve the level of co-operation and engagement within teams, and to align people’s work with the intended organisational vision and culture.
OD practitioners believe that an effective organisation is one that can adapt to and cope with changes in its environment, and that because this is about flexibility, creativity and change, it is best achieved through these types of human-focused approaches.
I’m not sure how that sounds to you, but I cannot imagine any objection to such an approach to school improvement. So please read on, and engage with what I hope will be a growing resource for anyone interested in how OD can be applied in schools.