Exploring the Relationship between OD and Change Management: Interview
Written by Prosci
How do Organization Development and change management relate, and how do they together drive more successful change in organizations around the globe? Prosci Chief Development Officer Tim Creasey is a co-author on two chapters in the newly released fourth edition of Practicing Organization Development: Leading Transformation and Change, a leading textbook on Organization Development. Below we interviewed Tim on his second chapter, “Exploring the Relationship between Organization Development and Change Management.” Read the first interview on his chapter on change measurement.
Q. The second chapter you wrote for Practicing Organization Development: Leading Transformation and Change was a collaboration between you and three other change management and Organization Development specialists. Can you tell me about the other authors?
There were four authors on the chapter. There were two of us on the change management side of the house, Gail Severini and myself, and then two from the OD side of the house, Dr. David Jamieson and Dr. William Rothwell. It certainly was a bit of a journey that we took as a collection of authors to arrive at a place where we had a story to tell about the overlap, convergence and divergence of Organization Development and change management.
You’ll find, on LinkedIn Group discussions and in the literature, that there is sometimes some animosity and interesting conversations happening between Organization Development and change management. We really enjoyed the journey as authors to learn as we moved forward in trying to bring light on the topic of how the two related. We actually started the whole chapter off with kind of fun, charged statements like, “This is what the OD folks say about the change management folks, and this is what the change management folks say about the OD folks.” And we tried to create a framework to show how it’s not if change management or OD but rather when change management and when OD.
Q. So did you all come in eyes wide open, knowing that your disciplines can have these pre-conceived notions, and we’re going to set those aside?
Yeah we came in acknowledging that there were those pre-conceived notions and the walls that were being built between the two, and then we tackled them head on as we uncovered the chapter.
Q. The chapter outlines three differences and three similarities between the change management and Organization Development. What was one of the differences you found and what was one of the similarities?
I’ll start with the similarities. I think the importance of human beings and their unique contribution to organizations and to change itself really underpins both of these disciplines. It’s why I think we’re going to need both of them more than ever as we go forward because change is only going to become faster and more complex and more dependent on people as the workforce.
The main difference that we found was what we call the scope of application. OD scope tends to focus on the whole system. Change management’s scope of application is around supporting those individual transitions that cumulatively result in organizational change.
Q. At the end of the chapter, you propose to shift the conversation from “Organization Development or change management?” to “when Organization Development and/or when change management.” Can you give me an example of what that looks?
The example we used in the chapter is around the notion of a merger or acquisition. When two organizations merge, there are absolutely systematic changes that are required and are going to need to be supported, and OD brings that perspective and that toolset. But also when the merger happens, we have specific changes that impact how people have to do their jobs. And change management helps support those individual transitions so that the initiatives are successful and the merger delivers what is expected. So they’re both delivering success on the merger at the systematic and individual levels, respectively.
Q. In your work with these three other experts, what do you think was the most important discovery you all made when writing this chapter?
I think that the wall that has been erected between the two is much lower than we actually would have anticipated. And that an attempt to drive separation between the two disciplines is not advantageous for either discipline or for organizations or positive change generally. The complexity of today’s world requires more inclusive and holistic approaches to change, and bringing Organization Development and change management together is really what delivers that.
Q. So is that main takeaway you hope students will get from the chapter?
Yeah, I think so. We live in a time where we need more perspectives, frameworks, tools and disciplines for driving positive change. Together, OD and change management are going to deliver more successful change across the industry and the globe. I hope that this chapter can move the disciplines from petty bickering toward active collaboration.
This is the second part of our interview series on Prosci’s thought leadership authors. To read the first interview of Tim Creasey and Prosci Master Instructor Scott Ross on their chapter on change management measurement, click here.
About the Author
Tim Creasey is a globally recognized leader in change management. With over 15 years of experience, his work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results. As a respected authority on change management, Tim has had the privilege to speak and engage with many of the Fortune 100 leaders and their companies. He has spoken at some of the largest change and process management conference in the world and co-authored the book Change Management: The People Side of Change.
Connect with Tim on LinkedIn
“Practicing Organization Development: Leading Transformation and Change, Fourth Edition is the revised guide to successful organization development. This edition has been updated to explore the cutting edge of change management, leadership development, organizational transformation, and society benefit…[It] offers both theoretical concepts and guides to practical applications, providing you with the knowledge, techniques, and tools to put organizational development to effective use in the workplace.” – book description from the publisher