There is an constant and frankly non constructive dialogue that goes on about whether or not OD is passé.
The answer is that OD is definitely not passé although it is not as widely commissioned as it used to be. While others have cannibalized some of what OD used to do, and people are not as valued as they used to, there are special situations where the added value of OD is outstanding.
In the next three posts, I shall outline 3 special situations where the added value of OD is overwhelming.
The first special situation is New Product Introduction.
1) Typically, a new product goes from R&D to Engineering and then to Process Engineering and Production Engineering, which are in Operations. (There can be lots of variance to this, clearly.)
2) The more complex the product is, and the faster the organization is moving, the transition as described above is anything but smooth. Operations wants a plug and play product kit, while R&D wants to wash their hands of the dog food and move onto the next invention, with Operations left to fill in the blanks.
Add to this that products do not flow smoothly along; they often move one step backs and then two steps forwards etc., until problems are defined and solved.
3) Add complexity of different geographies and cultures, this is a perfect cess pool for OD.
4) The most frequently made mistakes that managers and change managers make is to try to define the process more clearly. This attempt to `define away complexity`is what my late Dad used to call pissing into the wind. And I grew up in Quebec where the wind is mighty strong. Mais oui! There is no way that this process can be perfectly defined.
5) Another frequently made mistake is to put too much focus on Gating and Handshakes in the process. It is simply more complicated than setting up a Customs-Douane at every `station“ on the way, especially given the time to market pressure.
6) New Product Introduction is enabled by teamwork, sharing of risks and overlapping responsibility. This is a classic domain where nothing beats the effectiveness of OD. Not even outdoor training or a motivational speaker.