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It is a collection of change methods that try to improve organizational effectiveness and employee well-being. OD methods value human and organizational growth, collaborative and participative processes, and a spirit of inquiry. OD places heavy emphasis on the subjective ways in which people see their environment. The focus is on how individuals make sense of their work environment. The change agent may take the lead in OD, but there is a strong emphasis on collaboration.

The underlying values in OD are: Respect for people (to treat people with dignity and respect); Trust and support (to promote trust, authenticity, openness, supportive climate in the organization); Power equalization (to deemphasize hierarchical authority and control); Confrontation; and Participation.


Some of the OD interventions / techniques are as follows:

  1. Sensitivity training: Training groups that seek to change behaviour through unstructured group interaction, like laboratory training, encounter groups, T-groups, etc. Members were brought together in a free and open environment in which participants discuss themselves and their interactive processes, loosely directed by a professional behavioural scientist who created the opportunity to express ideas, beliefs, and attitudes without taking any leadership role.

Although extremely popular in the 1960s, these diminished in use during the 1970s and have essentially disappeared. However, organizational          interventions such as diversity training, executive coaching, and team building exercises are descendants of this early OD intervention techniques.

  1. Survey feedback: For assessing attitudes held by organizational members, identifying discrepancies among member perceptions, and solving these differences. Everyone in an organization can participate in survey feedback, but of key importance is the organizational “family” – the manager of any given unit and the employees who report directly to him or her. It includes on a range of topics including decision-making practices, communication effectiveness, coordination among units, and satisfaction with the organization, job, peers and immediate supervisor.

These data become the springboard for identifying problems and clarifying issues that may be creating difficulties for people. Particular attention is given to encouraging discussions and ensuring it focuses on issues and ideas and not on attacking individuals.

  1. Process consultation: Managers often sense their unit’s performance can be improved but are performance can be improved but are unable to identify what to improve and how. The purpose of ‘purpose consultation (PC)’ is for an outside consultant to assist a client, usually a manager, “to perceive, understand, and act upon process events” with which the manager must deal. These events might include workflow, informal relationships among unit members, and formal communication channels.

PC is more task directed, and consultants are there to “give the client ‘insight’ into what is going on around him, within him, and between him and other people.” They do not solve the organization’s problems rather guide or coach the client to solve his or her own problems after jointly diagnosing what needs improvement.

As the client actively participates in both the diagnosis and the development of alternatives, he or she arrives at greater understanding of the process and the remedy and is less resistant to the action plan chosen.

  1. Team building: Team building uses high interaction group activities to increase trust and openness among team members, improve coordinative efforts, and increase team performance, emphasis on intragroup level.

It typically includes goal setting, development of interpersonal relations among team members, role analysis to clarify each members’ role and responsibilities, and team process analysis. It may emphasize or exclude certain activities, depending on the purpose of the development effort and the specific problems with which the team is confronted.

  1. Intergroup development: It is concerned with dysfunctional conflict between groups. It seeks to change groups’ attitudes, stereotypes, and perceptions about each other. This technique focuses on differences among occupations, departments, or divisions within an organization.

Among several approaches for improving intergroup relations, it is one popular technique and emphasizes problem solving. Each group meets independently to list its perceptions of itself and of the other group and how it believes the other group perceives it. The groups share their lists, discuss similarities and differences, and look for the causes of disparities.

Once they have identified the causes of the difficulty, the groups move to the integration phase – developing solutions to improve relations between them.

  1. Appreciative inquiry: An approach that seeks to identify the unique qualities and special strengths of an organization, which can then be built on to improvements. There are 4 steps: discovery, dreaming, design and destiny.


The characteristics include comprehensiveness; it is educational and instructive; behavioural trust increases; it is an internal process; increases adaptiveness and inter-dependence.

Increase in productivity

Organizational flexibility


Keywords: Organizational development (OD), OD interventions


Nupur Sinha (Ph.D.)
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
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