Organisational development takes time and effort to ensure it sticks and is fit for purpose. The challenge of creating strong alignment between the key messages, systems, policies and practices, and the cultures that must adopt the proposed development can lead to poor interventions that create ill-will, disengagement and distrust. Many leaders lack the necessary capabilities to evaluate the real issues that need to be addressed. They may also find it confronting to take the lead on large-scale initiatives without support.
Good organisational development draws on a number of key principles:
- Thorough evaluation and diagnosis of the issues to be addressed;
- Strong communication and consultation with all stakeholders;
- Careful project management;
- Regular monitoring of outcomes and
- Sufficient time to allow institutional learning and the embedding of cultural values to occur.
Shelda Debowski has led a number of large organisational development projects including:
- The development of collaborative online learning programs to support academics and researchers (see: Future Research Leaders Program and Professional Skills for Research Leaders).
- A comprehensive knowledge audit of a government agency leading to the appointment of a knowledge manager and a range of recommendations on leadership, knowledge retention and organisational record keeping.
- Development of a goal-setting strategy and parent education program for a private boys college.
- Development of a change agenda strategy and series of discussion papers for a private secondary school.
- Reviews of leadership effectiveness, research practices, learning and teaching effectiveness in higher education faculties and schools.
- Development of performance management, workload models and promotion systems in universities and government agencies.
These projects operated with a key principle: that the support targeted growth of the leader/s as well as oversight of the agreed organisational initiative. The building of leadership capability is essential, particularly during the implementation and embedding phase when old practices need to be phased out and cultural change encouraged.