The value of organisational development

Chief Operating Officer Greg Allen talks about the importance of a good organisational development plan and the benefits this can have on the workforce.

The value of an agreed and relevant organisational development (OD) plan can often be underestimated, but one fact remains: good organisational health and well-being should improve organisational performance.

True OD works because it is focused on inside-out transformation. For the workforce, it means that rather than facing relentless top-down transformation, the whole organisation rallies around and owns an organic and planned programme of action-orientated activity, top down and bottom up, with specific focus on strengthening attitudes and behaviour. Of course, this requires full ownership from the Board and executive team as a prerequisite for potential success.

At the CfWI, we are embarking on OD with renewed vigour. We are here to support the health, public health and social care system – to help Health Education England deliver its new mandate, to deliver specific work currently commissioned by the Department of Health and to develop our relationship with Public Health England.

Our list of key stakeholders is significant, from commissioners, medical royal colleges and professional representative bodies to employers across the health, public health and social care spectrum. We must continually develop the CfWI through a modern OD approach if we are to satisfy the needs of our stakeholders and customers. In other words, as well as providing better workforce planning to improve people’s lives, we must do the same within the CfWI internally.

In order to embed an instantly recognisable brand for our OD we have developed the following graphic for use across all related OD activity at CfWI, seen below:

od icon

Organisational climate and culture is about ‘the way we do things around here’ but also a recognition that the needs of a business and its people can be constantly changing. Being nimble and flexible enough to adjust to changing demands will be a key hallmark of any organisation’s success.

Central to this is the need to take a pragmatic approach, recognising current organisational capacity and aligning effort around delivery of any future objectives you might have.

Joan Gallos, professor of leadership at the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, emphasises this in a 2006 publication on OD. She says: ‘Organisational development artfully weds process with content in a search for long lasting solutions to tough challenges.’

Our CfWI approach to this will see us ensuring the organisation is continuously improving through action-orientated activities focused on strengthening attitudes and behaviours and a long-term approach. This includes identifying the needs of our own staff and embedding experience-based learning. The ethos is that only we can own and make the changes we require to develop the organisation to be the best it can be.

This is further broken down into five internal OD pledges for CfWI:

  1. stakeholder engagement and relationship building
  2. developing the organisational culture and climate
  3. strengthening ourselves as a credible leadership team
  4. robust governance and decision-making
  5. talent management and succession planning.

These pledges are not just goals to be achieved. They are ongoing pledges within the CfWI to ensure we are continuously improving. As with most policy and strategy, it is the implementation that is critical – and regular communication and the opportunity for feedback is a key pillar of success.

Developing and focusing your approach to OD, including relevant measures of success, could help you to ensure that your organisation has embedded the most appropriate plan of action in line with the needs of your patients, customers, clients and wider stakeholders. It also promotes integrated working because it helps other partners more easily understand what you stand for and what you are doing about it.

  • The NHS Employers organisation is working with the NHS Leadership Academy on a great initiative called Do OD. Find out more on this dedicated website.