Organization development and culture transformation | Inquirer Business
HR Matters

Organization development and culture transformation

Editor’s Note: This is the third article of the 3-part feature on Organization Development (OD). OD is a theory and practice of planned, systematic change in the attitudes, beliefs, and values of the employees through creation and reinforcement of long-term training programs. Some of the key benefits that companies will gain through OD include (1) continuous improvement; (2) increased communication; (3) employee development; (4) product and service enhancement; and (5) increased profit.

WE ARE in the age of the “unthinkable,” the era of volatile and unpredictable change and a world where the new rule is that there are no constant rules. In such a world, organizations, in order to survive and prosper, need to transform towards a shared sense of the future, an agile and proactive mindset and people who are prepared to create rather than wait for the future. In such an environment, adaptability, creativity and speed are the pathways to survival and success.

Organizations, therefore need to be constantly self-transforming, even to the extent of creating new rules for effectiveness & success.


In this article, I will share an approach which will facilitate a whole systems transformation to prepare an organization to be future-ready.


Organization Development in the 21st Century

An emerging discipline called Organization Development is an approach that aims to develop and align organizational capabilities to support corporate growth. I had the privilege of growing professionally with this discipline and I would view Organization Development (OD) as a philosophy and a strategy of leveraging the power of   organizational purpose, processes and people to develop the internal capabilities required to sustain the value creation processes of the enterprise amidst the realities of constant changes.


Creating an adaptive, learning organization is a key capability for surviving in today’s fast-changing environment. An adaptive learning organization consists of three interacting core components: 1) Purpose; 2) Processes; 3) People.

Successful organizations are driven by clear, inspiring and shared meaning as to its basic purpose, mission and values.

The component of Purpose refers not only to written documents on vision, mission and core values which many companies post on their walls but more importantly to a shared mindset of every member of the organization on its strategic directions and priorities. These strategic directions, when fully internalized, guide members of the organization to effective behaviors and outcomes.

Processes on the other hand, are the execution enablers translating the strategic directions towards sustained and consistent results.

The third core component, People, is the key to making the two aforementioned components work. The power of the people component lies on the quality and commitment of employees of the firm, energized by its leadership& people policies.

Integrating these three components in a way that invites commitment and embeds these capabilities into the overall competence of the organization is the challenge of the OD practice. Specifically, these organizational capabilities may consist of the following: inspiring leadership, flawless customer service, a shared mindset on mission and values, a learning and customer-driven culture, among others.

Whole System Transformation

In this article, I will share a summary of a ten-step OD methodology for Whole System Transformation (WST) developed by Roland Sullivan. It is derived from his experiences over the last 40 years with over 1,000 organizations, ranging from 100 to 140,000 employees. I would like to acknowledge the kind permission given by Sullivan and his associate, Mary Jane B. Balasi to edit their article published in Development and Learning Organizations of Emerald Insight and selected by its editorial board as the Outstanding Paper of 2014.

Essential 1. Build Internal Change Agent Capability

A highly competent Internal Change Agent (ICA) using a proven OD methodology is key. He / she is positioned to facilitate the change process while the executive leadership controls the content.

The external WST consultant provides coaching to transfer the knowledge to the internal change agent. The external consultant works with the client system – ICA and senior leaders – to set up the structure, process, and political relationships to support change.

Essential 2. Transform the Executive Team

The first intervention in a whole system transformation effort ideally focuses on the CEO’s team. The Executive Team defines the process that will be used to transform the whole system under them. In order to achieve this, the Executive Team must be transformed first, i.e. have one brain and one heart, which sets the tone for system-wide change.

Modeling change at the top has the best chance of inspiring the rest to embrace change and gain trust and commitment. Each executive in the top team must transform themselves, as well as the executive team’s effectiveness as a group, for system-wide change to happen. This helps them understand the way they relate intra-personally, to each other, the system and others.

Essential 3. Develop the Transformation Design Team

One output of the executive team retreat is to draft the purpose and outcomes for a three-day paradigm-shifting summit of 300 to 1000 people.

A design team of 8 to 15 people is appointed to create a detailed agenda, producing compelling workplace learning. The external WST consultant provides a team development process and guides the group in its design work.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

(to be continued next week)

TAGS: company, human resources, Labor, organization

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Curated business news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.