Back in February 2009, Linda Holbeche, CIPD Director of Research and Policy and Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge, a leading thinker on organisational change, co-authored an article in Impact, CIPD’s quarterly update on research and policy activities, called Organisational development – what’s in a name? (click here to download a copy as a PDF). As OD consultants and advisers, we hope that the article has had ‘impact’ as well as simply appearing in a magazine with that title, as we share the authors’ concerns that OD is neither well understood nor as widely practised as it might be. Like them, we would very strongly argue that OD has a major contribution to make in the present business climate as a means of breaking out ‘vicious cycles of wastefulness and short-termism’.
The years running up to ‘the crisis’ – a more multi-headed beast than a mere ‘credit crunch’, hence perhaps the lack of a widely accepted single term for our times – can be seen as one in which relatively easy living blind-sided organisations to a need to think differently or over longer timeframes. As the authors say:
… periods of strong growth can often mask the need to do anything different and breed complacency.”
Yet those are not current circumstances for most organisations: making hay while the sun shines is ok only as long as organisations, when colder winds blow, are happy to keep their heads down on hay bales when they could have been working towards pillows.