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Essential Elements

OD PDs Program Review Criteria

Document Name: OD Program Review Essential Elements v5b.docx

Document Date: 5/18/2014 4:18 PM

Optional fields are in italics

The following reflects the efforts of OD Program Directors in 2009 and 2010 and agreed at the meeting of the OD PDs on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 in New Orleans, LA, at the OD Network Annual Conference. Each year, these are reviewed by the members of the OD Education Association, but not changed since 2010. 

Foundations of ODC

1. History and evolution of organization development and change: an understanding of the social, political, economic, and personal forces that led to the emergence and development of OD and change, including the key thought leaders, the values underlying their writings and actions, the key events and major concepts and writings, such as:


  • Kurt Lewin's early work in organizations and communities
  • The human relations and human potential movements
  • Groups and group development, eg, NTL/T-groups, Tavistock Institute
  • Data based approach, eg, survey research
  • Quality of work life
  • Humanistic values
  • Values and ethics of OD, eg, The Statement of Values and Ethics , in The NTL handbook of organization development and change: principles, pp 59-62, (2006) By Brenda B. Jones, Michael Brazzel


2. Systems Perspectives: considers the role of the individual and the relationships among people in larger systems; the ability to think, organize, and engage at the level of individual, group, and whole system through single and double loop learning; an understanding of how human systems evolve over time and respond to internal and external pressures; how cause-and-effect relationships are circular; how organizational effectiveness depends upon the interdependence of the parts and how well the individual parts fit into the whole, and the effectiveness of the whole depends upon how the parts fit together; how chaos and complexity and other emergent theories inform human and organizational systems; recognition of how these perspectives enable and support sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. Optional subfields include:

a. Organization Design: the decision process associated with formulating and aligning the elements of an organizational system, including but not limited to structural systems, human resource systems, information systems, reward systems, work design, political systems, and organization culture; the impact that technology has on social systems, organization structures, and job design; being clear about the value of engaging and collaborating with multiple stakeholders, especially those directly affected, in the process of building systems that are beneficial to the organization as well as the individual.

b. Organizational Acumen and Mastery: the ability to read and understand basic financial and performance data from the organization; sufficient knowledge of the sector, industry, or organizational environment to be credible as a partner, advisor, or consultant to senior management; the ability to make a contribution to the leadership and management decision making of the organization; knowledgeable about the demand system of the environment and external system, and the dynamics of the internal system to be viewed as a "trusted advisor” to the senior leadership of the organization.

Theories, Models and Practices of Change

3. Classic and emerging theories and models for change: the basic Action Research model, participatory action research, planning models, change typologies (e.g., fast, slow, incremental, quantum, revolutionary, etc.), models for transformation change, Lewin’s change model, transition models, and newly emerging constructionist and interpretivist methods such as Appreciative Inquiry, Dialogic OD, etc.

4. Designing/choosing appropriate interventions: understanding how to select, modify, design, and evaluate effective interventions that will move the organization from its current state to its desired future state; understanding the implications of design choices; creating conversations within the organization about the organization, how it operates, what it is good at, and how it could improve, and measuring the impact of changes that are undertaken. These might include the optional subfields of:

a. Facilitation and process consultation for individuals, groups and teams: the ability to assist an individual or group toward a goal; the ability to choose from a variety of intervention options based on the needs of work; the ability to intervene in the system such that the client system maintains ownership of the issue, increases its capacity for observing and reflecting on its own behaviors and actions, and develops increased capacity; includes differentiation of roles, observation and intervention into processes, including communications, decision making, stages of group development, task and maintenance leadership, handling conflict and difference.

b. Process Improvement Methods: the ability to apply organizational development concepts to improve manufacturing, service operations and the supply chain. Knowledge of organizational and leadership issues that must be addressed when implementing process improvement methods such as: lean and quality principles including strategies to successfully implement improvements in different organizational environments.


Leading Change and the Use of Self

5. Leading the consulting process: the ability to enter a system; develop effective relationships; contract for goals, outcomes, and resources; discover and diagnose/assess; design/select appropriate interventions at the appropriate level of the system (ie, individual, group, team, enterprise, system) and at the appropriate breadth and depth; implement those interventions; manage un-programmed events; evaluate the results, outcomes, and impact of change projects; and provide closure and exit.

6. Values-Based: Adheres to the statement of values in the OD Network's Principles of Practice, including: respect and inclusion, collaboration, authenticity, self awareness, empowerment, sustainability, capacity building, corporate social responsibility, etc. Ref:

7. Use of self: bringing values, knowledge, skills, and experience to bear on the work of an OD consultant or leader; able to be self reflective; being honest with self and others; ability to recognize, challenge, and change one’s own mental models; knowing and holding appropriate boundaries; using self disclosure wisely; skillfully communicating; appropriate conflict and confrontation skills; seeking and offering feedback; speaking truth to power.


Cultural Competence and Diversity

8. Organizational Culture: the patterns of shared assumptions, attitudes, experiences, beliefs, values, and norms that govern actions and interactions within organizations and with their outside environments. Understanding that organizational culture is embedded in a larger social context, how it is affected by cross cultural and global forces, the recognition of power and privilege dynamics within organizations, and acknowledging that organizations are made up of multiple cultures, including those cultures brought in by diverse individuals, as well as the cultures that develop within teams and professional groups.

9. Global culture: the study of differences across nations and cultures in the ways in which people and organizations act, interact, and react. Understanding that an emerging global culture driven by multinational organizations and widespread communications media encourages the mixing of cultures, enables people around the world to embrace common causes, and potentially raises standards of living. But the emerging global culture has also proven to be injurious to indigenous populations, languages, cultures, and natural habitat, slowly reducing diversity and devastating traditional ways of life.

10. Diversity and Inclusion: Understanding that diversity is about valuing the uniqueness of each individual on characteristics such as culture, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. and the ability to manage the related tensions and complexity. Understanding that inclusion is about engaging differences to create a culture in which people are valued and honored for what they contribute on characteristics such as race, gender, and culture so they can fully contribute to team and organizational performance. Ability to work effectively across cultural perspectives in a conversation, project, or work relationship.


Organizational Diagnosis, Assessment and Research

11. Organizational inquiry: Field research methods; design of data collection methods, including interview protocols; questionnaires, and surveys; content analysis; designing change evaluation processes; evaluating the meaning of information through synthesis and analysis, expansionism and reductionism; ability to use and choose wisely among a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods, especially those used in Action Research.

12. Organization assessment: The ability to align methodology choices with the needs of the project and client, and the philosophy and world view of the consultant; the ability to conduct an inquiry into a system’s effectiveness; the ability to see the root cause(s) of a system’s current level of effectiveness at all levels of the system: individual, group, organization, multi-organization; ability to observe and assess activity both at the task/transaction level and also at the processes level; ability to engage stakeholders in the assessment process; the process of sense-making from the data.

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