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The History of Organisational Development



While there is no single definition of organisational development (OD), it is commonly known to be the practice of changing people and organisations for positive growth. And the history of OD goes back to Fredrick Taylor who worked with Henry Ford and the early 20th century.  The roots of OD started with a view that people were units of work, to be measured.  Mary Parker Follett challenged this concept by saying that leadership of people was more important than management.

The OD movement continued with people like Freud & Jung, and moving into the 1950’s, and 60’s with insights and theories from people like Kanter, Lippit and Lewin.  In the 1970’s onward the OD methods of open space, agile, 7 S’s and other research regarding organisational systems, like Burt Litwin. 

Moving more towards today with OD theories on organisational hierarchies and a smaller workforce, such as those you read about in companies such as Zappos.

If you are an OD fan this seven-minute video is an excellent summary of the ideas, people and theories over the last 100 years.

Comments by Mary Sue Rogers

Posted On : 27-09-16

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