Jan-Mar 2012

Organization Development: Accelerating Learning and Transformation


With the rapid and discontinuous changes and daunting challenges in business environment sweeping across the world, from emerging economies to the developed countries, there is need for a new mind-set to proactively deal with such challenges. Organisations require people whose mind-sets foster a work culture that is inclusive, transparent, empowering, aligning, and one that builds trust.

In such a scenario, senior business leaders and managers are confronted with the challenges of making complex joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions across international boundaries. They are sometimes required to fundamentally alter the business models of the firm and align values at different levels, and involve employees at all levels in creating a larger vision and giving new direction to the organisation. In order to bring about such radical changes, the leaders have to learn to become facilitators. Irrespective of their size, ownership and scope, organisations have a sense of urgency to bring about such mind-set changes. The senior management of dynamic organisations are also deeply concerned about developing leaders rapidly. Continuous learning and development and management of change have, therefore, acquired a centre stage as never before.

What can be done to accelerate such learning and transformation?

Lucidly articulating the challenges of change in the contemporary and emerging scenario as stated above, Ramnarayan and Rao have addressed the issues very comprehensively in their thoroughly revised version of “Organization Development.” They have redefined and significantly extended the boundaries of Organisation Development (OD) to include a large repertoire of approaches and methods for change, effectiveness and transformation in organisations keeping the bedrock of total system-level, behavioural science process-oriented and humanistic values-based-framework.

In the first part the authors present a theoretical base that traces the historical evolution of OD through three generations from internal and micro focus to macro and external focus with emphasis on large-scale changes, based on the new paradigm of concepts from Positive Psychology and Appreciative Enquiry in the third generation OD. A wide range of classic, tried and tested learning methodologies/interventions, and perceptive contemporary thinking in OD has been concisely covered by original authors, and the authors of the book.

The second and third parts feature an extensive range of very practical learning resources, relevant cases, and highly insightful interviews from internal and external OD practitioners.

The style of presentation that begins with practical situations to illustrate the concepts, explains them, and how to operationalise them in practice. The short chapters in the book are very reader-friendly. For those interested in understanding the phenomenon of change and OD, this insightful book with its vast repertoire of relevant chapters is a must read.

While this book will help revive the interest of business leaders and professional managers in OD, specific chapters/write-ups providing insights in Positive Psychology and Appreciative Enquiry, and their application and impact on OD’s emerging paradigm and practice would have further enhanced the knowledge of the readers.

By S Ramnarayan and T V Rao.
Reviewed by: Abad Ahmad, Former Dean, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) and former Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi
PUBLISHER S: SAGE Response, New Delhi, 2011 (Second Revised Edition).

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