OPD Articles / Where organisational development stops and training starts


Where organisational development stops and training starts

Dr Graham Little PhD AFNZIM MInstD MNZIC

Why bother with this stuff, all we want to do is sell cars, make things, deliver services, etc, and bank the results? Ask yourself: are people a factor in the business results? Are we really getting best possible human performance? What would happen if human performance in my business was increased 10%? The issues gets much more subtle than this. We have discussed transparencies - the fact that we have certain views on things, and these things will dominate what we 'see' and so dominate how we act - and the fact that what is on any transparency is our unique 'model' or 'theory' of the situation. Everyone uses 'theories' every day, we just don't fully understand that we do, and we definitely do not manage the process very well.

Imagine someone had a decision model or process they used. Now imagine it was not very good, and did not do a very good job, just adequate. The person now became aware that their decision processes were just adequate and they wanted to correct it. Would working harder with the model they have get a better result? Perhaps, but the model is flawed, need change the model.

Now consider the models of strategic human resource management and improving human performance that you have. How good are those models? When did you really have a hard look at them, or do you assume you are a great, instinctive leader and do not need to even think about it. But what if you are not and you do not realize it? How would you know? You get good results, could be the argument. But how much better could those results in fact be? Our research shows that an improvement of 10% in human performance will result in a change in the line of the profit profile by around 2.5%. Now see what happens if you change sales, operations costs, and overhead costs by 2.5%.
Operations costs75.00-2.5%74.59
Gross profit25 27.91
EBIT3.00 6.46

Profits have doubled.

If the model you take for granted involving human performance is flawed, working harder will not improve things much, if at all, and as soon as you take your eye of it, stop making it a focus results will slide back to where they were and will not be maintained.

But we are using global HR best practice, is the claim. Consider this: how many global HR and leadership books do you know that relate what they do to issues and circumstances in social science? None is a typical answer. Now management deals with people and the science of people is social science…so why not, and more importantly if they do not make that effort how good is the model or theory they are offering you? And are you prepared to wager a substantial loss of profits on it? There are other potential arguments, like 'but they do empirical research on what the best do and we follow that?' but what if they are using models that are still not as good as they could be, you remain following mediocrity, and mediocrity is what you will get.

I hope I have established the following:

  • Taking the models we use for granted will repeat yesterday's results. (If you do what you have always done you will get what you always got.)

  • Achieving systematic and lasting improvements in human performance is more complex and demands more care and subtlety than commonly understood.

  • Global HR best practice in relation to human performance has weak to inadequate models based on weak to inadequate ground work. (Failure to relate to clear model of organization, clear model of psychology, and clear definition of relationship between business strategy and staff behaviours all fully based on aforementioned issues, etc.)

  • That the potential gains in getting it right are large (potentially doubling profits with an associated increase in staff satisfaction).

  • These arguments apply to any and all business, regardless of size, geographic distribution, or industry.

    It all likely seems too expensive with tales of woe involving expenditure of training, etc, with no gains in results. Poor models, even if well executed, will not get improved results. With appropriate models it is too expensive not to do it.

    Organization development is ensuring the best possible models in mind of all team leaders supported by a full administration system guiding implementation of the models, all resulting in well defined transparencies in the mind of every staff member that orientates them effectively and fully to the task they are expected to perform at work and the results expected to accrue from their efforts. Failure to implement global best practice organisational development systems is a commitment to mediocrity. (When faced with competing suppliers making such claims then ask for them to illustrate to you the models they will use that simply and clearly link staff behaviours to strategy, and the psychological targets arising from the model, etc. In short, check the models are clear, accurate and the links simple.)

    Now given the goal<=>action principle, namely that for every goal there are actions needed to ensure the goal is achieved - no point in setting the goal of writing a novel and then never putting pen to paper, or these days never tap keys on your computer - and since every job has outputs, call them key performance indicators, it must also have key actions. I call these key actions the 'ideal behaviours' in the job; 'ideal' in the sense that doing them with due commitment gives the best chance of the best result. Doing the ideals fully and thoroughly does not guarantee success, but not doing the ideals guarantees failure.

    People need transparencies of ideals to 'see' what to do. However, transparencies of ideals alone is not sufficient; people also need to be able to 'see' the action that will translate the ideal into behaviours for them on the job. We are now left with several important issues.

  • What if people are not able to do the ideals to standard?

  • What if they not able to do some or several ideals at all?

  • What if people get blasé or rote in their delivery of some or several ideals?

  • What if circumstances change in the market, and the ideals need reshaped or refined?

  • In doing the ideals the team learns about them, and about how to best act out the ideals for specific groups or market segments. How is that learning to be bought forward and shared?

    Training is the process of developing and refining people's skills and abilities at delivery of the ideals to standard, also of bringing forward the learning in the team and the organization so that ideals are sharpened and refined becoming more effective and people more successful.

    The most successful business will have sound strategic organisational development systems and processes that ensure best possible organisational capability. OPD system provides global state of art organisational development systems and processes. Within the system is section devoted to training and development of ideals. The coaching and training is then over to the team leader and manager to implement. However, we have found managers less willing and less skilled to implement coaching and training that we assessed, so supporting OPD we now suggest our training consultants deliver the training to ensure the ideals are as sharp and being acted out as fully as people are able to do.

    Effective organisational development plus effective training will ensure you are achieving the highest level of profit achievable in your market and that there is no profit erosion due lack of leadership or staff performance.