Learning to swim, learning to fly?

A career in organisational development

Garrow V, Varney S | Report 481 | Institute for Employment Studies | Mar 2011

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Organisational Development (OD) is much in demand in UK organisations across all sectors.

Organisations continue to look for a broad range of skills from their OD practitioners from organisation and process redesign, capability building, talent management, employee engagement to behavioural changes required for business transformation. There is, however, no recognised career path or standard qualification for practitioners.

This report examines how people make their way in OD, what kinds of skills and experience they find most valuable and the routes they have taken to developing a top level career.

We ask whether OD professionals are born or made. The answer of course is a bit of both. A broad range of operational experience, a good grasp of theory and a well-stocked tool-kit are all important basics, but there is something too about an OD mindset.

Successful OD practitioners are curious about people, intuitive about intangibles, willing to take risks, tolerant of ambiguity, have strong values and particularly want to make a difference in an organisation. We asked practitioners what learning they would like to share with others wishing to develop a career in OD, and their advice is here in this report.