Organizational Development

Updated on March 20, 2024
Article byKumar Rahul
Edited byKumar Rahul
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Organizational Development?

Organizational Development (OD) in finance refers to a set of planned and systematic processes aimed at improving an organization’s effectiveness, efficiency, and overall health within the financial sector. It involves various interventions and strategies to enhance the organization’s structure, culture, processes, and human resources to achieve better economic outcomes and sustainable growth.

Organizational Development

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This involves assessing and optimizing the organizational structure to ensure that roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines are well-defined and aligned with the organization’s financial goals. This can help streamline decision-making and improve coordination. OD practitioners collaborate closely with leadership, employees, and stakeholders to diagnose challenges, identify opportunities, and design tailored interventions.

Key Takeaways

  • Organizational development takes a comprehensive approach to improving organizations, addressing culture, processes, structures, and people.
  • It emphasizes the need for organizations to adapt to changes in their environment, whether in technology, regulations, or market trends.
  • Involving employees in the change process is crucial for successful implementation and minimizing resistance.
  • Effective leadership is essential in guiding and supporting OD efforts, setting the tone for change, and fostering a positive culture.
  • Organizational development is an ongoing process that encourages organizations to evaluate and improve their practices continuously.

Organizational Development Explained

Organizational Development (OD) is a comprehensive approach to enhancing an entity’s effectiveness and efficiency by refining its structure, processes, people, and culture. In finance, OD aims to optimize financial institutions and companies through strategic interventions, fostering adaptability and promoting a cohesive financial ecosystem.

Organizational Development emerged as a discipline in the mid-20th century as a response to organizations’ growing complexity and challenges. Its roots are in multiple fields, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, and management. Various theorists and practitioners influenced the concept, and its evolution can be traced to notable figures such as Kurt Lewin, Douglas McGregor, and Richard Beckhard. 

Organizations began to recognize the need for adaptability in the face of rapid changes in markets, technology, and regulations, and the principles of OD gained traction. Over the years, OD has evolved to encompass various strategies, tools, and methodologies to foster positive organizational change and growth.

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Some prominent models of organizational development:

  1. Action Research Model: This model emphasizes collaboration between consultants and employees to identify problems, collect data, and develop solutions. It involves a cyclical process of diagnosing, planning, implementing, and evaluating changes. Action research encourages participation, learning, and ongoing adaptation.
  2. Lewin’s Three-Step Model: Developed by Kurt Lewin, this model is based on the idea that change involves three stages: unfreezing (creating a need for change), changing (implementing new processes or behaviors), and refreezing (stabilizing the changes as the new norm). It highlights the importance of addressing resistance to change and managing the transition.
  3. Burke-Litwin Model: It focuses on the cause-and-effect relationships between various organizational factors. It identifies key drivers of change, such as leadership, culture, structure, and external environment. Changes in these drivers are believed to have a cascading effect on other elements, leading to overall transformation.
  4. McKinsey 7-S Framework: Developed by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, this model emphasizes seven interdependent elements that must be aligned for effective change: Strategy, Structure, Shared Values, Systems, Skills, Style, and Staff. Changes in one area necessitate adjustments in others to ensure coherence.
  5. Appreciative Inquiry: This model identifies an organization’s strengths and positive attributes rather than just its problems. It involves a process of inquiry into the organization’s best experiences and successes to leverage these positive aspects to drive change.


Let us understand it better with the help of the following examples:

Example #1

Suppose a fictional fintech firm, Financial Innovations Inc. (FII), implements Organizational Development using Kotter’s 8-Step Model. Faced with changing market dynamics, FII creates urgency by discussing industry trends. A coalition of leaders designs a vision for becoming a digital investment leader, emphasizing apps and personalized options.

Clear communication through town halls and workshops ensues. Empowerment follows with skill training and cross-functional teams. Launching an enhanced app and a chatbot garners early wins, motivating staff. These successes drive ongoing refinements while celebrating achievements. The transformation cements into FII’s culture, rewarding innovation. The model fosters FII’s evolution into a dynamic, customer-focused entity.

Example #2

In the 1990s, IBM faced a decline. Using Lewin’s Model, CEO Louis Gerstner unfreezes by highlighting the urgency for change due to internal rigidity and external competition. Changes involve dismantling silos, emphasizing services over hardware, and focusing on customer solutions. These shifts aim at changing the organization’s culture and market responsiveness.

The changes are reinforced through communication and alignment with customer-centric values. IBM’s transformation under Gerstner from a struggling hardware-centric company to a thriving services-oriented entity showcases the efficacy of organizational development in revitalizing large enterprises.


Critical advantages of implementing organizational Development:

  1. Enhanced Performance: OD initiatives align an organization’s structure, processes, and people with its strategic goals. This alignment leads to improved efficiency, productivity, and financial performance. Streamlining processes, optimizing workflows, and clarifying roles can increase operational effectiveness.
  2. Adaptability: The finance sector is dynamic and subject to rapid changes in regulations, technologies, and market conditions. OD fosters a culture of adaptability, enabling organizations to respond to new challenges and opportunities. This agility is crucial for staying competitive and seizing emerging trends.
  3. Innovation: OD encourages a culture of innovation by promoting collaboration, open communication, and sharing ideas. Organizations that embrace innovation will likely develop creative financial solutions, explore new markets, and adapt to evolving customer needs.
  4. Employee Engagement: OD emphasizes employee involvement in decision-making, leading to higher levels of engagement. Employees who feel their opinions are valued become more motivated and committed to their work. Engaged employees are likely to contribute positively to the organization’s success.
  5. Reduced Resistance to Change: Organizational Development models often address resistance to change by involving employees in the change process and providing opportunities to participate and contribute. This reduces uncertainty and fear associated with change, making transitions smoother.


Some of the critical limitations include:

  1. Resistance to Change: One of the most common challenges in OD is employee resistance to change. People are often comfortable with existing routines and may hesitate to embrace new processes, technologies, or cultural shifts. Overcoming this resistance requires effective communication, involvement, and addressing concerns.
  2. Time and Resource Intensive: Implementing OD initiatives can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Organizations may need to allocate significant time, budget, and personnel to plan, execute, and monitor these interventions. This can strain operations, especially in fast-paced sectors like finance.
  3. Complexity of Measurement: While OD aims to bring about positive changes, measuring the direct impact of these changes on the bottom line can be challenging. The outcomes of OD initiatives may only sometimes be immediately quantifiable, making it difficult to assess their effectiveness in financial terms.
  4. Lack of Top Management Support: Strong support from top management is crucial for successful OD. If leaders are not fully committed or aligned with the goals of the OD initiatives, it can hinder implementation and undermine their effectiveness.
  5. Resistance from Middle Management: Middle managers might fear OD disrupting their established authority or roles. They may resist changes that could alter power dynamics within the organization, creating a barrier to successful implementation.

Organizational Development vs Change Management vs Organizational Effectiveness

Here’s a comparison between organizational development, change management, and organizational effectiveness:

AspectOrganizational DevelopmentChange ManagementOrganizational Effectiveness
FocusBroad and Holistic approach to enhance organizational health, culture, and performance.It can involve long-term strategic efforts that lead to gradual transformation.The limit to which an organization achieves its goals efficiently and effectively.
ScopeEncompasses long-term changes in culture, processes, and structures.Primarily concerned with the successful adoption of specific changes.Measured by how well an organization utilizes its resources to achieve desired outcomes.
ObjectiveTo improve the overall functioning and effectiveness of the organization.To guide employees through transitions and minimize resistance during changes.To optimize processes, resources, and strategies to achieve maximum outcomes.
Emphasis on PeopleFocuses on involving people, building collaboration, and fostering a positive culture.It is primarily associated with specific projects and initiatives.Considers the impact of people and culture on achieving organizational goals.
TimeframeEmphasizes managing people’s emotional responses and facilitating the adoption of new behaviors.Primarily associated with specific projects and initiatives.An ongoing evaluation of how well an organization operates in the present.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can an organization measure the success of its organizational development initiatives?

Success in organizational development can be measured through various metrics such as improved performance indicators, increased employee engagement scores, reduced turnover rates, enhanced customer satisfaction, and a more positive organizational culture.

2. Can organizational development help with strategic planning?

Yes, organizational development can be closely tied to strategic planning. It helps align the organization’s structure, culture, and processes with its strategic goals. This alignment enhances the organization’s ability to execute its strategic initiatives effectively.

3. Is organizational development a one-time process or an ongoing effort?

Organizational Development is often an ongoing and iterative process. While specific interventions or projects may have defined timelines, continuous improvement, adaptability, and innovation principles are integral to OD. Organizations should consistently assess and adjust their practices to remain effective.

This article has been a guide to what is Organizational Development. We explain its models, examples, benefits, comparison with change management, and limitations. You may also find some useful articles here –

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