Having a clear focus on developing our organisations is critical to ensuring we are all able to deliver our organisations ambitions; in a way which is compatible with the culture and ethos our organisations want to pursue. However, what exactly ‘developing organisations’ means can be a difficult concept to define or even explain. A popular definition of developing organisations is from Roffey Park. Roffey Park state organisation development is ‘…a planned, systematic approach to improving organisational effectiveness – one that aligns strategy, people and processes’.

This is a very helpful description, however, as Strategic Lead for this theme I can’t help but feel it doesn’t quite capture the full essence of what developing our organisations is, and should be about. We need to understand not just models of change, human behaviour and process but more fundamentally what makes organisations ‘tick’.

Another way to describe developing our organisations is through exploring the idea that organisations are built on a network of relationships. We know from research that relationships between an employee and their manager are hugely influential; so too can be relationships between colleagues (particularly in relation to teams and teamwork); there is also relationships between employees and the organisation and of course the actual work. The important point of this is that we know that relationships are founded on ‘thoughts’ and ‘emotions’ – what makes people ‘tick’

Put simply, in order to develop our organisations we need to focus on the “health” of our organisations, its people, processes, systems and culture. We then need to put our efforts into making sure it runs smoothly and is able to carry out the work it needs to. This is why having a focus on developing our organisations is so important, if we fail to look after the health of our organisation, just like if we neglect our own health, sooner or later we will see issues arise. This theme therefore seeks to create discussion and thought on what the genuine meaning of developing our organisations is and how it may shift our minds as to how we approach our work.

Why should we focus on this?

All organisations, across all sectors are facing unprecedented levels of change and volatility. Whether this is a result of technological breakthroughs, demographic changes, increased competition or complex political environments.

Therefore perhaps more than ever it is vital that as HR and OD professionals we come together to understand how we can best support our organisations to work out what their futures look like and most importantly how to create that future with them, learning from one another as we go.

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