The field of OD works to a broadly agreed set of values, or what might more accurately be referred to as principles. These have been summarised by Petrella (2005):
- The “fundamental purpose” of an organization comes first when thinking about any course of action.
- An “open-system” perspective helps in understanding the organisation, and this includes external as well as internal influences.
- “People are the ultimate source in creating value, and that value is significantly increased through cooperation and collaboration”.
- “Conflict is inevitable and requires the use of legitimate power”.
- “An organization’s culture is made up of the members’ values, beliefs, and behaviors, which set the ground rules of appropriate organizational behavior”.
- “Tension between continuity and change is healthy and eternal”.
- “Vital leadership inside the organization is essential for all constructive change”.
Petrella refers to “legitimate power” as the use of power to resolve conflict and make decisions in a way that is respected by those impacted by its use. Linked to this, he also refers to “vital leaders” and their need to “appeal to the hearts and minds of followers” and “articulate and embody the desired future.”
I subscribe to these OD principles and use them to shape my practice.
This practice is also influenced by my own values. These combine perspectives concerning both individuals and groups.
I see individuals as unique contributors, with individual rights, needs and ambitions.
I also recognise that to understand the individual, one must look to the group and the relationships it contains.
It is in relationships that individuals find meaning, motivation and identity, and it is through relationships that individuals contribute. Relationships, therefore, significantly shape the effectiveness of groups and organisations.
Petrella, T. (2005) Organization Development: Requiem or Reveille? In: Bradford, D. L. and Burke, W. W. eds. Reinventing Organization Development: New Approaches to Change in Organizations, Addressing the Crisis, Achieving the Potential. San Francisco, Pfeiffer, pp 65-86.