Organizational Development Principles
Principles driving successful organizational change and development for desired results

Organizational Change and Development Principles

Do you use key principles underlying best practices in organizational development, change and leadership?

Apart from core values driving successful organizational change and development, the total organizational development framework integrates the following six organizational development principles that help foster best practices in managing organizational change, building high performing teams, building organizational culture, and promoting organizational leadership and performance succesfully:

  • Integrity
  • Commitment
  • Agility
  • Empowerment
  • Renewal
  • Integration

Principles rooted in integrity

The Integrity Principle

An organization cannot remain in a state of high-performance for long if it lacks integrity. An organizational development program—to be successful—should be guided by a desire to promote and sustain the integrity of the organization and the organizational systems. The primary meaning of 'integrity' is 'wholeness'. It will include internal facets highly valued enough to ensure harmony, stability, vitality, and wholesomeness which have significant impact on the life of the organization as well as on the quality of its people and the organizational systems.

The Japanese have an interesting phrase which underpins effective organizational synergy in general. The phrase is significant to the integrity principle. The phrase is used of a horse in harmony with its rider. Success—or if you like, ultimate success—comes when 'the horse and the rider' are in harmony. In the same vein, successful organizational development results from wholesomeness in facets of the people and the organizational systems.

What forms the essence of the organizational life and organizational systems? What would harmony between the people and the organizational systems entail and translate to on measures of integrity? And how would this be promoted in the organizational development program? How would 'wholeness' manifest on measures of team, culture, people and systems performance in the organization? These, and such other issues, are important when deciding on the organizational development strategy, framework, process, tools or technologies.

The integrity principle is the overarching principle for effective organizational synergy and successful organizational change, leadership and performance. It is the vector-principle that defines the character and shapes the impact of the other guiding principles for best practices in organizational change and development. It also signposts the essence of the organizational developmen initiative. A major result of negating the integrity principle is ineffective corporate governance, which could manifest in pervasive and viral organizational frustrations and inefffiencies.

Starting with the integrity principle, all the best-practice principles should be explored, operationalized, and integrated with the organizational change and development programs to produce effective synergy of people's actualizating attributes and excellence of key aspects of the organizational systems—while facilitating harmonious functional interdependencies in organizational systems and processes.

Organizational commitment rooted in organizational integrity

The Commitment Principle

Your people would give their best and feel fulfilled when they are committed to the cause your business sets before itself. The corollary is also important: Your people and the organizational systems would give their best if you commit the necessary resources to the cause and incorporate their actualizing attributes. Too often, organizational development projects are embarked upon without a thorough assessment—or with an underestimation—of the commitments required in people and resources for the desired lasting effects.

There must be an understanding and agreement on the fundamentals of the process, program and strategies for ownership of, and commitment to, the organizational development project by the people. Planning resources, developing a focused communication strategy and plan, introducing change-themed organization workshops and commitment workouts and roundtables, and profiling organizational change and culture champions, are central to employing the commitment principle. How a business or an organization does these—and what its top management shows to its people in the process of doing them—are equally important.

It is imperative to develop commitment to the overarching integrity principle from the onset.

What is the level of the key people's commitment and what would the organization be doing to get the right level of commitment to the integrity principle? How would the organizational systems, or their facets, be fashioned to facilitate such commitment to promote effective organizational synergy for high performance?

The Agility Principle

The agility principle emphasizes the importance of facilitating the robustness, responsiveness, flexibility, innovativeness, vitality, and spontaneity of the people and the organizational systems. This principle is critical to ensuring that the people and the organizational systems are—or remain—in top condition, and that they are well-tuned to achieving the strategic mandate in the long term. Building a learning organization, developing the internal capacity of the organization, optimizing the performance management systems, facilitating an effective talent and leadership pipeline, and facilitating actualizing attributes of organizational systems and their functional interdependencies in the process of organization change and development promote the agility principle.

Strategically positioning for sustainability of desired results

The Empowerment Principle

An organizational development program must empower the people and the people systems for effective synergy of their functional interdependence. That is, so that they operate in tandem and seamlessly for high performance. The organization must build the internal capacity and agility or stamina, promote people's drive for achieving the desired business objectives and strategic results, and facilitate alignment and vitality in, and among, organizational systems and subsystems.

The acid test of the empowerment principle in operation is the degree of sustainability of the organizational development program several months after it was concluded.

There must be an agreement on the process, program and strategies which would be used to facilitate and measure the empowerment of the people—and the robustness and responsiveness of the organizational systems. Time frames and assessment metrics should be developed on the various aspects of the empowerment process and relevant organizational outcomes.

The Renewal Principle

At the heart of organizational development is the renewal of the people and the organizational systems. The renewal principle takes off from—and is very much integrated with—the agility principle. Building a high-performing organizational culture and a learning organization requires that the people are comfortable with organizational change, that they are responsive, and that they seize the initiative and opportunities to actualize the organizational systems. The organizational development framework, model and process technology being employed should have a robust, responsive feedback mechanism that is people friendly, and with little or no distruptive after effects.

To optimize and re-vitalize the people and the organizational systems, the organizational development framework and methodology should incorporate mechanisms and tools for systematic, continuous review, assessment, evaluation, and feedback.

Wholeness and functional interdependencies

The Integration Principle

The organizational development framework and technology being employed should help facilitate the integration of the actualizing attributes that bring high-performance in the people and organizational systems. That would involve addressing such issues as:

  • how the people and the elements of organizational systems would fit,
  • where in the organizational systems, new features, sub elements or people would be best placed or positioned,
  • how to position and fashion the variious aspects or elements of the organizational systems and make them fit for purpose,
  • and how functional interdependencies of the organizational systems and sub systems would be optimized to sustain desired performance of people and the organizational systems and processes.

An adaptability and integration plan should be incorporated in the change management plan for the organizational development project. The process of monitoring and evaluation of the organizational development program should include the piloting of the integration plan at least within a subset of the organization. To foster ownership of the integration plan—in fact the change management plan—a people-friendly, responsive and iterative feedback mechanism should be incorporated in the monitoring of the program outcomes.

Proactive collaboration and productive engagement.

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