What is organisational development

Do OD event

Organisational development (OD) is an evolving field of practice that has many definitions. Rather than assuming there is one magic definition that will work in every situation, we suggest a deeper understanding of what OD means to you in the context of your organisation. We’ve been working with our NHS OD community to describe what it means to us and our context.

In the NHS, the purpose of OD is to improve the quality and safety of patient care and we describe OD as enabling people to transform systems. OD is a field of practice where behavioural science is applied to organisational and system issues in order to align strategy and capability. OD enhances the effectiveness of systems through the provision of interventions that build capacity and capability to achieve our collective goals. OD improves the performance and health of systems by amplifying the humanity in our organisations, enabling people to flourish, thrive and have meaning in their work. 

The roots of OD are based on humanistic values and principles of social justice, equality, participation and democracy. These values are what makes OD distinct to other consulting or development practices. The OD Network proposes that the values of our profession are respect and inclusion, collaboration, authenticity, self awareness, empowerment.

Our work in Do OD is underpinned by those values, and we try to demonstrate them through everything we do. In our context we have paid particular attention to four key areas: 

  • co-production
  • curiosity 
  • creativity 
  • courage. 
People who practice OD act as helpers in the system, as third-party change agents. The people who make up organisations are the ones who make change happen. The role of the Do OD team is to attend to their needs and use interventions that build capability for organisations to achieve their goals. 

What does OD mean to you?
Can you articulate what your definition of OD is? Is it the different to ours? What does your system or organisation need?

We’d love to be part of those conversations, tweet us @NHSE_DoOD using #WhatisOD alternatively you can join the OD Community.




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