Standing on the shoulders of the OD founders!

– by John Scherer

We learn from the giants who laid out the path for us, more than 3000 years ago.


The founders of Organization Development have rooted the tree of OD that grew over centuries. We are on the branches which continue to grow in practicing OD.


OD family tree


Sigmund Freud – We live life inside 3 interacting domains: self, other people and life!


Carl Young – Besides the unconsciousness driving us, there is also a collective unconsciousness. We also have a shadow which is projected on other people close to us!


From here John Scherer leads into performance management, conflict resolution, empowerment, leadership, personal development across life stages, motivation, human psychologist, whole personality/character, self esteem and personal growth, transactional counselling, self-help.


From here Sherer takes it to the giants of OD:

Frederick Taylor: skill management and coordination, matrix management and quality of life – how to make organizations better

Kurt Lewin: applied behavioural science, seeing what is happening – action research, ownership participation, sensitivity training in group dynamics,

Wilfred Bion: leaderless/self-managing groups, cross functional team learning and shared responsibility, recognizing leadership abilities, focusing on process driven approach

– Douglas mcGregor: X and Y Theory management – motivation and responsibility approach, application oriented OD


standing on the shoulders of the OD founders


What we learned from the OD founders:

1. No research without action, no action without research

2. Everything is connected, especially technology and people

3. Change is the only constant

4. Small groups are key

5. The people who give you data own it

6. Break existing patterns with people, by involving them

7. Leaders must be authentic (emotional intelligence) and human as well as technically sharp



A working definition by Billie Alban, John Scherer

OD is the application of action research and systems theory, using participative processes with human systems to increase the internal and external effectiveness of that system and its stakeholders – especially in working with change.


– Essential is to engage the entire organization in the process

– People participation in the process of change

– eliminate silo-building and engage with all stakeholders

– It is all about adapting to change


To conclude:

Practicing Organization Development – by William J. Rothwell and Roland Sullivan




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