OD – Organisational Design or Organisational Development?

OD has often had a confusing connotation – is it organisational design or organisational development?  As our world has been radically changed and we are adapting every day to new ways of working and living, I believe OD is going to be crucial to organisations moving forwards – in both senses.

Organisational Design:

Businesses are already planning to remove silos within their organisational structures. By using virtual Teams as task forces, they will be able to address issues and implement new ideas free from the restrictions of locations and functional departments that were propagated in the office by the physical layout.   Only today, I saw someone had secured a new role as Head of Recruitment and Reward – a combining of functions within HR that I think will only increase.

The use of technology means we will increasingly collaborate across functions – procurement are now liaising far more than ever before with every other aspect of a business that delivers goods – working out how supply chains and buying decisions can influence the successful delivery of the product.  HR are responsible for the people aspect and utilising IT to deliver people solutions like never before. 

The role of HR in this organisational re-design is crucial and the path they tread will be unchartered.  Sure many businesses have gone through significant change management – most recently in 2008 on a global scale.  However, this time, it will be very different and the role that HR plays will be different too. Already new positions and job titles are emerging such as Chief Collaboration Officer and Vibe Manager & Head of all things Awesome[1].  The ‘new world’ will need innovators, collaborators and people who bring the ‘art of the possible’ to the table.

Organisational Development:

This new way of working will require new skills and hence the need for OD as organisational development. Changes in ways of working trigger the need for a re-think of the skills needed to service the re-imagined business[2].  In particular, we can anticipate an increased need to build skills and confidence in the use of IT to support virtual working.  As the balance of work turns towards engaging customers in all businesses (internal and external), a greater need for sales and customer service skills will emerge. In my opinion, leadership development is going to be key here and any programme must include the ability to lead virtual teams.

So whether you read OD as Organisational Design or Organisational Development, the core of the matter is that OD in every sense is what you need to be doing right now to thrive in the new world.

[1] https://hrtrendinstitute.com/2020/02/13/trends-hr-job-titles-update/

[2] Creating the New Normal, Melanie Franklin, April 2020.