Organizational development basics

Build a better, stronger, and more resilient organization. Improve the quallity, transparency and use of the intellectual capital available to the organization.

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Skills contained in this skillset:

I understand what is meant by development

To develop is to grow or cause to grow and become more mature, advanced, or elaborate.

The development process consists of

  • Identifying the current state of someone/something (its traits and behaviours)
  • Identifying the desired and undesired states of someone/something (its traits and behaviours)
  • Working systematically away from the undesired state and towards the desired state 

“If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.” - Kurt Lewin

I understand what is meant by organizational development

Organization development (OD) is an effort that focuses on improving an organization's capability through the alignment of strategy, structure, people, rewards, metrics, and management processes.

OD is a critical and science-based process that helps organizations build their capacity to change and achieve greater effectiveness by developing, improving and reinforcing strategies, structures and processes.

The practice of OD seeks to systematically improve the availability, quality and reusability of the intellectual capital of the organization, consisting of its people (human capital) and teams (structural capital).

The aim of OD is to optimize how the organization functions and delivers value, and to avoid a dysfunctional organization.

I understand the motivations for practicing organizational development
  • Avoid dysfunctionality within the organization
  • Make the organization a more appealing place to work, improving your ability to attract and retain top talent
  • Get the most from employees and managers
  • Make the organization more aligned and effective
  • Make the organization more resilient and future-proof
I understand the motivations for developing a great organization

A great organization is an organization that is perceived to be:

  • High-functioning and effective
  • A healthy and attractive workplace
  • Resilient and future-proof

When you have a great organization

  • Employees and vendors are eager to contribute to it
  • Clients and investors want to invest in it
  • Managers and consultants can diagnose and improve it
  • Board and regulators can easily review and audit it

A great organization can scale more quickly and with less growing pains, allowing the product to reach the market more quickly.

I understand what is meant by a deliberately developmental organization

Deliberately developmental organizations are organizations that are committed to developing every one of their people by weaving personal growth into daily work.


I understand how a growth culture differs from a performance culture

"In a growth culture, people build their capacity to see through blind spots; acknowledge insecurities and shortcomings rather than unconsciously acting them out; and spend less energy defending their personal value so they have more energy available to create external value. How people feel — and make other people feel — becomes as important as how much they know.


By contrast, a performance-driven culture often exacerbates people’s fears by creating up a zero-sum game in which people are either succeeding or failing and “winners” quickly get weeded out from “losers.” "


I am familiar with different organizational development methodologies 4 sub skills

A learning organization is an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.

Building a Learning Organization

Kaizen is a method for continuous improvement. Incremental improvements that over time amount to extraordinary results.

Operational excellence is a mindset that embraces certain principles and tools to create a culture of excellence within an organization. Operational excellence means every employee can see, deliver and improve the flow of value to a customer.


Insight management is the process of proactively and deliberately organizing insight to ensure the best return on investment of the intellectual capital available to an organization.

Read more

I am familiar with the practical obstacles of practicing organizational development 2 sub skills

Practically, organizational development consists of improving the quallity, transparency and use of the intellectual capital and the culture utilized by the organization.

One practical way of working with organizational development is to focus on producing great answers to the questions posed by the org- and team playbook, and ensure people have a high degree of clarity and familiarity with the answers.

Management Research Group conducted a study among 10.000 senior leaders. When asked "What is key to your organization's success", 97% said "long-term strategic thinking".

In a separate study, 96% of leaders said they don't have time for strategic thinking.

I can recognize the traits of a high functioning organization/team 16 sub skills

Alignment is the degree of which a group of people understand, see and belive the same things around a given topic.

In a misaligned team, people have different agendas and ideas of what the top priorities should be, and spend a lot of time engaging in discussions and office politics in an attempt to sway decisions in their direction.

Check out the survey How well aligned are we? for specific indicators of an aligned team.

Enablement within a team refers to the extent team members are given the proper training, tools, equipment and support they require to do their best work.

In a team where enablement isn't a priority, people are expected to figure things out for themselves and leaders are more focused on their own work rather than the enablement of others.

The improvability of a team refers to the degree a team methodically learns from its mistakes and predictably improves how work will be carried out in the future.

In a team not focused on improvability, different people repeat the same mistakes because insights of how to avoid those mistakes is not identified and embeddded into the  processes and checklists used by the team.

Discoverability is the degree to which something, especially a piece of content or information, can be uncovered, even if the user did not know that that something existed.

In a team with low discoverability, people aren't aware of (or can't learn on their own) which information exists or where they can expect to find certain types of information. This results in time wasted either looking for, not having access to or even duplicating information.

Observability in a team referes to how easily stakeholders can observe how work has been done.

In a team with low observability, one has to actively seek out and talk to the individuals doing the work in order to identify progress and obstacles.

Low obserability makes it more difficult to manage and audit work, identify delays, mistakes and inadequate resources.

Focus means that people are spending as much concentrated, uninterrupted effort as possible their top priorities.

In a team where the focus is low, a significant portion of time is spent on efforts that are not a top priority without anyone even noticing or pointing it out.

A team with low focus will spend more time achieving their goals (or perhaps not even know what those goals are).

Productivity, in the context of a team, is how efficiently the team is able to produce desired output of sufficient quality.

A team with low productivity becomes a bottleneck for acheiving organizational goals, causing stakeholders and members of adjacent teams to grow annoyed and frustrated.

In a psychologically safe environment, people feel safe to take risks, make mistakes and speak up.

In a psychologically unsafe team, people fear being reprimanded for doing their work incorrecly or for pointing out things that could be fixed. This increases anxiety and reduces motivation.

The bus factor is a measurement of the risk resulting from information and capabilities not being shared among team members, derived from the phrase "in case they get hit by a bus".

In a team with low bus factor, other team members are concerned with key personell leaving or even just taking a vacation. When they do, work is halted or improvised, and oftentimes completed incorrecly.

Adaptability refers to a team's ability to change and adapt to changing circumstances.

In a team with low adaptability, willingness to change is low, and justifications like "that's how we've always done it" is commonplace.

A team with low adaptability runs the risk of not evolving, and eventually being outperformed by those who do.

Autonomy means to which extent people are able to complete work on their own, without having to rely on others.

In a team with low autonomy, people are constantly interrupting each other's flow in order to get their own work done. This can cause a vicious circle where experts hesitate to invest in delegating their work for fear of being constantly interrupted, causing the autonomy of others to remain low.

Transparency means to which extent we can easily and in advance predict how processes and behaviours will be acted out.

In an opaque team, it's anyone's guess how a certain task, project or process will be planned, carried out and reviewed depending on which individual it is assigned to.

Opaque teams heavily rely on the faculties of the individuals to which work is assigned, and are unable to collect and share best practices over time.

Accountability means that people are made aware of and speak up when someone is not properly adhering to their responsibilitites and priorities.

In a team with low accountability, poor performance goes unnoticed or is not called out, allowing it to cause long-term damage to both results and morale.

Instructability is the degree at which something is easily instructable.

In a team with low instructability, making a change to how work is done feels arduous and difficult, which in turn makes people avoid attempting to make the changes they believe are neccessary (or rather, to justity why they aren't sufficiently important).

Intentionality of a team means that the team has a high degree of awareness in relation to where they're are going and why, and keeps this awareness top-of-mind in their day to day work. 

In a team with low intentionality, people are just showing up and completing tasks, without having any real sense of why it matters.

Low intentionality negatively affects motivation, which in turn hurts performance.

Innovation within a team is determined by the extent a team is introducing new ideas and producing original and creative solutions to problems.

A team that does not innovate is more vulnerable to disruption and being outperformed by other, more innovative forces.

I can recognize the traits of a high functioning member of the organization/team 3 sub skills

Read more about the overall concept of organizational clarity.

Role clarity is the extent to which a team member has a clear understanding of their own roles and the roles of others.

Role clarity answers the who and how of the organization:

Who should do what and how should they do it?

Concepts typically used to produce role clarity are roles, responsibilities, processes, skillsets, and many more.

In order to gauge goal clarity, check out the survey How clearly do I understand my role(s)?

Goal clarity is the extent to which a team member has a clear understanding of the high-level goals and objectives of the team, and the individual development goals of team members.

Goal clarity answers the what and when of the organization:

What should we be focused on and when should we be focusing on it?

Concepts typically used to produce goal clarity include goals/objectives (OKRs), prioritized initiatives/projects, performance indicators (KPIs), and individual development goals.

In order to gauge goal clarity, check out the survey How clearly do I understand our goals?

Existence clarity is the extent to which a team member has a clear understanding of the direction and identity of the team.

Existence clarity answers the why of the team:

Why does this team need to exist? What do we care about?

Concepts typically used to produce existence clarity are purpose, mission, vision, and values.