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Is your HR organization practicing Strategic Organization Development?

There are many definitions of Organization Development, and actual service delivery is often driven by the preferences, skills, experience, and background of the practitioner. For example, a practitioner with a strong learning and development background will often conceptualize solutions that pull heavily from that discipline, regardless of the actual business challenge. Similarly, a team-oriented practitioner might recommend team building activities to address the same organizational issue.

Photo Credit: AOLCC

In fact, Organization Development is often equated with team building and learning and development activities. Although these interventions often have merit in and of themselves, or are part of a potential solution set, they often don’t completely address the root cause for the presenting business issue. The result is often piecemeal, ineffective interventions that address symptoms but not the root cause of an organizational issue. This can, unfortunately, impact the credibility of both the practitioner and HR organization, making it less likely that they will be invited to the table as a strategic partner in the future. To address these issues, HR should practice “Strategic Organization Development.”


Strategic Organization Development is a diagnostically driven, outcome focused, evidence-based process that aligns critical organization systems with business strategy.


Strategic Organization Development is a diagnostically driven, outcome focused, evidence-based process that aligns critical organization systems (e.g., human capital, technology, process, data, management processes, structure, culture) with business strategy. Ensuring alignment of these critical systems with business goals drives performance while misalignment creates unnecessary friction, disruption, and inefficiencies that ultimately destroy business value. When done well, Strategic Organization Development has a dramatic impact on organization performance and is a considerable source of competitive advantage. It gives organizations the ability to diagnose functioning and produce deliberate, proactive interventions for closing gaps in alignment before they impact business performance. Strategic Organization Development takes a comprehensive, “systems” approach to provide a holistic evaluation of organization functioning. With that said, people are an essential driver of organization performance.

Photo Credit: Guide IT

Strategic Organization Development often emphasizes this system and provides an integrated, data driven foundation for many strategic human capital interventions that sustain and enhance organization performance over time (e.g., strategic workforce planning; recruiting; retention; succession planning; engagement; rewards and recognition; learning, leader development; and diversity, equity, and inclusion). Given the emphasis on human capital in the Strategic Organization Development model, HR is in an ideal position to build this capability, take the lead for their organizations, and enhance their position as a strategic partner.

Want to learn more? Reach out to Geoffrey Marczyk, Ph.D., JD. Geoffrey Marczyk is a Visiting Associate Professor in the Graduate HRD program at Villanova University. Learn more about him here!


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