Hot Potato – Deconstructing Organisational Development

 In Blogs

Here at the Change Directors HQ, we love watching TV Cookery Shows  and we have become fascinated by the term  –  “deconstructing a dish”.  It’s apparently a take on a saying coined by the French Philosopher Jaques Derrida and means taking apart foods that are normally combined in a dish and then plating them together in a different way.

We have been applying the concept to Hot HR Potatoes and produced some tasty results. This week in our article we argue that Organisational Development is an everyday ingredient of business life.

Our view of Organisational Development (OD) is very simple.  It’s all about top leadership driving change and growth. It should not be a one off event, it is a constant, organic, evolving process of improvement and development to meet an ever-changing internal and external  environment.

I see some businesses practicing the art really well but they think the term is Mumbo Jumbo.  Whether these businesses attach the tag of OD or not it’s true it has to be a cohesive approach – aligning strategy, structure, people, process and technology to achieve an agreed strategic direction.

Main Menu

Start with the big picture of the organisation.  It’s product, where it sits in its sector, its competitors, suppliers, customers, and the threat of new entrants into the market – the stuff of Porter’s five forces.  At the same time consider where the business wants to be in the future and what it needs to do or change to get there.

Dig down into the unique aptitudes that give the firm its competitive advantage. Competition between businesses is as much a race to conquer competence as it is for market position. The ultimate goal is that management focus largely on aptitudes that really affect competitive advantage.

Keep the customer at the forefront of your mind in every change you plan.

Those who have the OD knack don’t do “flavour of the month” fads that offer the solution to all problems. There will be all manner of oddities, issues, subjects, unique questions, systems and processes that are interconnected, interdependent, duplicated or at odds.


I have outlined that there is no set menu for OD and the recipe will need to be tailored to meet the individual needs of each organisation.  However, here are a few ingredients that I’ve added into many organisations:

Senior Management Meetings

Build Organisational Development into your Senior Management Meetings. Include it as an agenda item and consider it seriously once per quarter.

Job Descriptions

Insert a clause into their job description that requires Executives to practice continuous improvement and align it to the bonus and reward structure.  Reward drives behaviour.

Learn from your mistakes….and your successes

Richard Branson cites how his Mum helped him to think of setbacks as part of a learning curve. She told him..

‘sometimes it will be steep, but concentrate on looking forward rather than back and the climb will be easier’.

Organisations planning change can use a bit of help and experience to get the OD system kick started.  That way they will manage to avoid some of the mistakes that can happen. The Change Directors can help you define your recipe for success.

Ruth Gawthorpe is the owner of The Change Directors: an HR & Business consultancy with a specialist focus on driving productivity and results through people.  

She has worked at a senior level in a wide range of industries including Financial Services, Technology and Outsourcing.  If this article has tickled your taste buds then you can call Ruth on 07976509551 or email her at for a confidential discussion.  ​

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