Far away in the heavenly abode of the Great God Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single, glittering jewel at the net’s every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like the stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that but each of the jewels reflected in this jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite.
Indra’s Net – in the Avatamsaka Sutra
Organisation Development (OD) is a field of practice that assists teams and organisations in adapting to change. Two principles of OD include: engaging those people most affected by a change to contribute their ideas, energy and involvement to the change; and passing on skills to the organisation or team so that it is better equipped to handle change in the future. OD involves not only looking at the “what” that needs to be accomplished but also the “how” – i.e., the processes, skills, interpersonal dynamics, and relationships of those working within the system.
A majority of change efforts fail to bring about the desired results. There are myriad reasons for this. Some include the pressure to implement quick solutions to complex, entrenched problems, lack of consultation around root causes of problems, lack of engagement of people who can either support – or block – the changes, and lack of attention to the systems and dynamics that keep things the way they always have been.
An OD approach begins with a diagnosis of the current state by people who will be involved in the change effort. Every attempt is made to engage people in understanding the present state and designing the future state wished for. Thus ideas and recommendations for change become co-designed, co-owned, and co-implemented, and so are more readily accepted by those who will live with them.
OD has at its roots a belief in human worth and potential. Whether we are at work or at home, we are social beings who need connection with others and want to feel valued. Neuroscience research fully supports this. Using collaborative work processes to engage as many voices as possible, change efforts have more power and stamina by being fully owned by the principle stakeholders.
OD approaches work well when an organisation is going through significant change that requires people to do things differently compared with in the past, and where there is not a single or best solution to implement.
• Culture change – developing new values and behaviours to drive business results
• Creating a new mission and vision – to engage hearts and minds
• Integrating a new business – after a merger or acquisition
• Downsizing/Rightsizing – in a compassionate, dignified manner
• Enhancing team work and cross-functional working – with common measures of success
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