What's the Future of Organization Development?

Scholars and practitioners are reexamining OD's role and relevance in organizations today. Even some of OD's founders say there's a need to reinvent the field.

The dialogue has been healthy and the field continues to grow. This movement has given rise to new theories and concepts, more rigorous research, new kinds of interventions, and the application of OD in more countries and cultures.

Leaders in the OD community expect several trends to affect how organizational development will be used in the future. For instance, the economy continues to concentrate wealth and become more globalized. Environmental responsibility is on the rise. The workforce is ever becoming more diverse, educated, and free-agent oriented. And technology is enabling greater productivity and more e-commerce, networking, and knowledge-based work.

In response to such trends, Thomas Cummings and Christopher Worley of the University of Southern California have predicted that the future will require organizational development to become:

  • More embedded in organizational culture
  • More technologically enabled
  • More geared for shorter intervention cycle times
  • More oriented to innovation and learning
  • More interdisciplinary
  • More diverse in client organizations
  • More cross-cultural
  • Clearer about values