Organization Development: Emerging Role for Successful Organization Change

In 2018, the World Economic Forum (WEF) identified Organizational Development Specialists as one of the top ten emerging roles by 2022. What does Organizational Development Specialist do? Why Organization Development? How can developing economies leverage these emerging skills in order to build high performing organizations and sustainable economies? The field of Organization Development (OD) is expanding in terms of its boundaries and methodological inventiveness. As a multi-disciplinary field, Organization Development (OD) is premised on the dual identity of it being a professional field of social action and an area of scientific inquiry. Other fields that support the Organization Development field include Organizational Development and Organization Design, both of which are referred to as OD.

Organization Development Justine Chinoperekweyi Organization Leadership zimshoppingmalls

The thinking and incorporation of Organization Development (OD) skills training for directors, C-suites, managers and other work groups is a strategic imperative for building high-performance organizations

Dr. Justine Chinoperekweyi, June 2018

Organizations are described as complex adaptive systems (CAS) and chaotic structures. Chaos in organizations indicates that organizations are always in an unstable, dynamic state characterized by disorganization or being unordered. Organizational change is inevitable considering that organizations are operating in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment. The inevitability of change in the internal and external environment makes organization development a strategic and operational imperative. I defined OD as a “field of research, theory, and practice dedicated to expanding the knowledge and effectiveness of people; and the improvement of processes, systems, and structures to accomplish more successful organizational change and performance”. It involves continuous organization-wide diagnosis, action planning, implementation and evaluation, with the goal of transferring knowledge and skills to organizations, improve their capacity for solving organizational problems and managing change. OD supports change through obtaining insights about the interrelationships between internal and external environments. Due to the complexity of organizational change, OD helps to minimize corporate distress, bankruptcy and failures. Examples of fundamental OD concepts that facilitate effective change management include organizational climate, organizational culture, and organizational strategies. The Institute of Organization Development (IOD) defined the function of OD as providing organizations with successful change tactics to meet their critical goals while embracing partnerships, collaboration, commitment and accountability, encouragement and innovation.

In an article published by IOD Florida (USA), I identified the following critical reasons for the adoption of OD theory and practice in the strategic and operational roadmaps of modern organizations:

  • Fact-based decision making and cultivation of essential leadership skills,
  • Minimize risks by addressing the increasing digital complexities,
  • Aligning an organization into the operating environment,
  • Enhancing the capacity to resolve complex emergent issues,
  • Building congruence across the entire organization,
  • Unifying people in organizations, and
  • Increasing strategic awareness among all members.

OD Specialists or Consultants should not be loosely defined professionals, but demonstrate skills in conceptualization, the ability to design change strategies, and understands both dialogic and diagnostic methods of inquiry. The OD Specialist is an emerging role because of the ability to blend knowledge, expertise, and experience in addressing individuals, teams, or organizational issues. This ability is enabled through such interventions as Action Research, Whole System Thinking, Organizational Learning, and Behavioural & Social Science.  Borrowing from Suzanne M. Zaldivar, OD Specialists can be described as ‘conveyors of possibility, and the peddlers of difficult situations, catalysts of energy, warriors of healing, diplomats of difference, careful listeners, and imaginers of the whole’. I summarized the roles and responsibilities of OD Consultants as Authors of novelty, Advocates of growth and sustainable development, Agents of real transformation, Arbiters in the inevitable situations of chaos and complexity, and Ambassadors of relational practice. OD Specialists focus on not only developing high-performance teams and organizations but transitioning organizations into institutions.

Organizations and professionals in developing and emerging economies need to consider OD as a strategic and operational imperative in line with the other emerging roles. There is a need to invest in transformation-focused professional learning and development thereby advancing the field as a field of real transformation through considering its broader outcomes. The field should also be touted as a strategic imperative for corporate governance as it addresses the challenges of fragmentation, diversity, and instability in corporate boardrooms. Adopting the science, theory, practice, and values of OD is crucial in revitalizing the innovation agenda in most organizations.

The field of OD relies on conversations; hence, let’s get the conversations going regarding how we can engage in developing OD competencies with your team.

Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Walter Nyakanyanga
Walter Nyakanyanga

Very important information. Thank you Doctor JC


Great stuff Doc.


Borrowing one article by Amy Kates, the OD approach is working well in Rwanda as the interventions are being applied at government level. Thanks for adding the conversation in Zim. I always enjoy reading your articles and they demonstrate your commitment to the field.


Great observation and yes the field of Organization Development is expanding. A lot of purpose driven institutions such as OD Network, ISODC, OD Gathering, GIODN, IOD and I have learnt of COLD are advancing the field. Organizations should prioritize the OD function either through internal or external Consultants. Thanks for… Read more »


Very good analysis 👍🏽 This should definitely be implemented in organizations.