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Taking Strategy to Reality!


The title of this blog is the new focus for Provative when it comes to our customers.  You could call it our catch phrase, or motto, or value statement…whatever you want to call it, this is what we will be telling our clients we will do, and what we will be utilizing our entire bank of knowledge and experience to accomplish.  It’s an evolution of the company (not a revolution, but we will talk about those in the future), and I think it’s a great step towards becoming the ultimate value partner for our clients.

So what does this really mean, and how does this apply to Organizational Development and Performance Improvement?  First, let’s define strategy.  Ask yourself for just a second, what is strategy?  Is it the end goal?  Is it the way that you achieve it?  Is it the thing that makes you different from your competition?  Is it a plan to achieve all of these things?  Well, don’t feel bad if the definition escapes you.  The same can be said for academics the world over.  The truth is, it is a combination of all of these.  A strategy should be an end goal or goals and the components that help you to achieve them, and that differentiate you from your competition.  Now, this is really a condensed definition of my own creation, but to me this is what makes sense.

So how do you define your strategy?  One of the most important components is to understand your business.  When we say business, that does NOT mean just how to do whatever it is that you do well.  You have to know the market, customers, and the industry.  You may have a great product or service but if you don’t know how it meets your customers needs, and how you do it better than your competition then it really doesn’t matter.  One way that you can find out much of this is through market research.  This allows you to get a feel for what current customers like, and what they don’t like quite so much.  It can also be utilized to find out what potential clients or customers would like to see that would make them use one place of business over another.  Once you have this information you can really begin to, as I discussed in a previous blog, reverse engineer the organization.

It is the leader’s responsibility to be the initiator and supporter of this process!  This includes being prepared to have the tough questions asked.  Unfortunately, more than not the uncomfortable questions are the ones that produce the best solutions, because they strike at the heart of what an organization, all the way from the top down, is doing (or not doing for that matter).  This is where creating a strategy or challenging what is thought to be a strategy comes in to play.  When you combine the results from the market research, with the right questions to the right people, you uncover the infrastructure that makes an organization tick and ultimately succeed or fail.

As I have said before, and will continue to say, people touch every single aspect of your business and your Human Capital is the most important asset your organization has.  Even with this knowledge, in many companies Organizational Development and Performance Improvement departments are seen as a cost center (as opposed toa profit/revenue center).  This is in large part because many of the activities surrounding OD and PI are intangible, and therefore difficult to measure.  Difficult, but not impossible.  It is the responsibility of the OD/PI practitioner to know how to, and to functionally, measure results.  At Provative we have a proprietary way of measuring not only results, but also the expectations.  This allows for both quantitative and qualitative measurement that keeps the improvement process continuous.

Another key point is that in the Performance Improvement world, especially for those that follow the Human Performance Technology model from ISPI, you should be looking at the performance of an organization both systemically and systematically.  This falls directly in line with creating or altering an organizations strategy.

Ultimately, when you think about your company strategy you should be thinking about Organizational Development and Performance Improvement.  These are keys to the succesful creation and implementation of your strategy, and includes utilizing your Human Capital, as well as analysis of the organization to make sure all of the pieces fit, and creation of solutions if they don’t.

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Organizational Development….Training…Communications…Human Resources Development…Who are you?!


I enjoy what I do.  In fact, probably more than anyone should ever be allowed by law to enjoy their career choice.  And yet, I have come to one tremendous realization: the field that I am in is going through an identity crisis right now.  Trainer, OD Professional, Human Performance Technologist, Learning and Development Specialist…which one is right?  As a member of many discussion groups across the “interweb” I have found that there are many that share this sentiment and it brings to light the question of how many others feel the same way?  How many operational members, including leadership, question what the OD field really is or does? 

That’s what I hope to clarify a bit here.  I don’t claim to have all of the answers, and I strongly encourage anyone who has opinions and thoughts on this topic to leave a comment!  I’m sure that there are many different opinions and explanations, and I for one would love to hear as many as are available.

So what is this Organizational Development thing?  Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/organization_development) defines it as follows: “Organization development (OD) is a planned, organization-wide effort to increase an organization’s effectiveness and viability.  Warren Bennis, has referred to OD as a response to change, a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of organizationso that they can better adapt to new technologies, marketing challenges, and the dizzying rate of change itself.  OD is neither “anything done to better an organization” nor is it “the training function of the organization”; it is a partucular kind of change process designed to bring about a particular end result.  OD can involve interventions in the organization’s “processes”, using behavioral science knowledge, as well as organizational reflection, system improvement, planning, and self-analysis.” 

At www.businessdictionary.com/definition/organizational-development-OD.html the definition is slightly different: “(The) Theory and practice of planned, systematic change in the attitudes, beliefs, and values of the employees through creation and reinforcement of long-term training programs.  OD is action oriented.  It starts with a careful organization-wide analysis of the current situation and of the future requirements, and employs techniques of behavioral sciences such as behavior modeling, sensitivity training, and transactional analysis.  Its objective is to enable the organization in adapting better to the fast-changing external environment of new markets, regulations, and technologies.”  At http://www.odportal.com/OD/whatisod.htm we find the explanation as: “There is no single definition of ‘Organizational Development.’  If we were to break it into its parts we can discover one meaning: ‘Organization’ has come to mean the coming together of people and resources to form a unit. ‘Development’ in its simplest form suggests change and grwoth.  So OD could be defined as ‘the practice of changing people and organizations for positive growth.'”  You can also find definitions at http://ezinearticles.com/?organizational-development-definition&id=3893262 and http://www.odnetwork.org/aboutod/credo.php that are somewhat similar.

Why do I give so many references here?  To show that no matter what spin is placed on the definition, ultimately Organizational Development is about helping businesses and their people succeed and grow.  This happens through a company’s people, and the processes that they complete (administrative, physical, relational, communication, etc.) every day.  As it is with any profession there are many things that can fit in to the overall category.  The same can be said for OD.  For example change management, communications, training, business evaluation and analysis…these are all functions of OD.  One of the most common misconceptions is that training is, by itself, OD.  Training is only one tool in the overall OD system.  More recently I have become quite aware that a major piece of OD is the communication function, but again this is only one tool in the overall OD system in my opinion.  Many businesses and leaders would probably group OD in with Human Resources, which is not all together incorrect.  OD does, in fact, generally fall under the umbrella of Human Resources (if for no other reason than they work with a businesses human capital).  There needs to be a differentiation between the “Personnel Department” aspects of handling the administrative functions of employees versus the many functions of OD.

So where does this leave the OD definition, much less the function?  Well, no matter the title that you place on it, the purpose is still ultimately the same: to help organizations and their people succeed and grow!