Thursday, December 21, 2006

The best context for an OD job

In the last few months, I have seen quite a few 'OD' jobs advertised/posted in India. I do wonder how many of these 'OD' jobs provide a realistic opportunity to do OD (or at least the kind of OD that can make a significant business impact)

Based on an analysis of the 'OD' jobs that I have come across & my understanding of the business needs/opportunity for OD, I have come to the following inference.

"My best opportunity to do 'OD' would be in a mid-sized organization"

Let me explain what I mean by this. First of all, let me admit that this inference is being made only in a particular context (i.e. for me as an individual AND for doing 'my kind of OD'). Here, I define a 'mid-sized organization' as an organization with an employee strength anywhere between 3000 and 15000 (in India). These numbers are not absolute figures. The idea is that in 'too small' and 'too big' organizations there could be more barriers to do OD as compared to a mid-sized organization.

Of course, organization size is only one of the variables that could have an impact on the 'OD friendliness' of an organization (actually, defining organization size purely in terms of employee numbers itself is simplistic). There are many other factors like the organization culture, the way the HR/OD function is structured globally, past experiences with 'OD' initiatives in the organization, perception of the business leadership about OD, the stage of the organization life cycle the organization is in etc. There could be interrelationships between some of these variables themselves and a factor analysis might throw up interesting factors/loadings.

'Problems' with very small & very big organizations

(a) It requires a certain minimum organization size to create space for OD ( i.e. to dedicate headcount for an OD team/invest in building OD capability).

(b) When an organization gets very big, the tendency is to separate 'structural OD' and 'process OD' (For example, at Infosys the structural OD/OE initiatives are done by the OE team and process OD is done by the Infosys Leadership Institute. In many organizations structural OD/OE is part of corporate HR while the process part is managed by the training function). While process OD is quite close to the old definition of OD, its business impact/centrality to business is dubious. To be fully effective, both the process and the structural dimensions of OD has to be integrated. Also in very big organizations the OD lead position might be many organization levels away from the business leadership making it more difficult for the OD lead to influence/gain better understanding of the business/to be part of the decision making process.

As the organizations have become complex (with large degree of interrelationships between the parts) and fast changing doing isolated interventions in some pockets of the organization would not create significant business impact. Also traditional OD is giving way to OT (organization transformation), OT is more business results focused as compared to being more process/technique/relationship focused& also OT undertakes multiple integrated initiatives at the same time (keeping in mind the systems perspective) to create a business impact in a complex fast changing organization. .

Thus, I feel that a mid-sized organization is more likely to have a structure that is more conducive to an integrated approach to OD (integrating the both the process and structural dimensions in one team) while providing enough space/room to build OD team/capability.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Prasad,

i do agree with your proposition... being a part of infy HR team.