The Five Stems of OD Practice: A Comprehensive Guide to Organizational Development

Organizational development (OD) encompasses a variety of perspectives and approaches aimed at improving organizational effectiveness and facilitating positive change. One way to understand the origins and influences on the field of OD is through the concept of the five stems. These stems, namely laboratory training, action research or survey feedback, normative approaches, quality of work life, and strategic change, provide valuable insights into the historical perspectives and foundations of OD practice. In this article, we will delve into each of these stems to gain a deeper understanding of their significance and contributions to the field of OD.

1. Laboratory Training

The first stem, laboratory training, emerged as a prominent approach in the early days of OD. It relies on experiential learning methods to improve individual and group behavior. Laboratory training typically involves structured exercises and simulations conducted in a controlled environment that allow participants to develop interpersonal skills, improve communication, and foster effective group dynamics. This STEM emphasizes learning through direct experience, reflection, and feedback with the goal of enhancing individual and team effectiveness in the workplace.

2. Action Research or Survey Feedback

The second stem emphasizes the importance of research and data in driving organizational change. Action research and survey feedback approaches involve gathering data through surveys, interviews, or other research methods to diagnose organizational problems and inform interventions. This triad emphasizes the active involvement of organizational members in the research process, encouraging them to participate in problem solving and decision making. By using data-driven insights, OD practitioners can identify areas for improvement, implement targeted interventions, and track progress over time.

3. Normative approaches

Normative approaches emphasize the establishment and promotion of desirable norms, values, and behaviors within organizations. This approach focuses on defining organizational culture, values, and ethical standards. Normative interventions often involve engaging employees in discussions, workshops, or training sessions to align individual and organizational values, promote ethical decision-making, and foster a positive work environment. By creating shared norms and values, organizations can cultivate a strong culture that supports collaboration, innovation, and employee engagement.

4. Quality of Work Life

The fourth trunk, quality of work life, focuses on improving employee well-being and job satisfaction. It recognizes that a positive work environment contributes to organizational success. This stem includes initiatives such as promoting work-life balance, increasing employee engagement, addressing job design issues, stress management, and employee development. By focusing on quality of work life, organizations can create a supportive and fulfilling workplace that increases employee motivation, productivity and overall satisfaction.

5. Strategic Change

The final trunk, strategic change, emphasizes the importance of aligning the organization with its strategic goals and adapting to external environmental factors. Strategic change initiatives often involve significant organizational transformations, such as mergers, acquisitions, or shifts in business strategy. This discipline focuses on managing large-scale change efforts, including stakeholder engagement, communication, and organizational restructuring. By effectively implementing strategic change, organizations can remain competitive, agile, and responsive to changing market dynamics.

Examples of Common OD Interventions

Here are some examples of interventions commonly used in organizational development (OD) practice:

  • Team-building workshops: Team-building interventions focus on improving teamwork, collaboration, and communication within teams or across departments. Activities such as team-building exercises, trust-building exercises, and problem-solving simulations can be used to improve relationships, foster a positive team culture, and increase overall team effectiveness.
  • Leadership development programs: Leadership development programs are designed to enhance the skills and effectiveness of leaders within the organization. These programs can include leadership training workshops, executive coaching, mentoring programs, and leadership assessments. The goal is to develop leadership skills, promote effective decision-making, and cultivate a strong leadership pipeline.
  • Change management initiatives: Change management interventions are designed to facilitate smooth transitions during periods of organizational change. This can include creating change management plans, conducting change readiness assessments, providing communication and stakeholder engagement strategies, and offering change management training. The focus is on minimizing resistance, increasing employee engagement, and ensuring successful adoption of new processes, technologies, or organizational structures.
  • Process improvement projects: Process improvement interventions are designed to streamline and optimize organizational processes to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and improve productivity. This can include conducting process audits, facilitating process mapping sessions, implementing Lean or Six Sigma methodologies, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. The goal is to identify bottlenecks, eliminate non-value-added activities, and drive operational excellence.
  • Cultural change efforts: Cultural change interventions focus on changing the organizational culture to align with desired values, beliefs and behaviors. This can include conducting culture assessments, facilitating cultural awareness workshops, promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, and developing change champions within the organization. The goal is to create a positive and inclusive culture that supports innovation, collaboration, and employee engagement.
  • Employee engagement programs: Employee engagement programs are designed to foster a positive work environment and increase employee satisfaction and engagement. These programs may include employee surveys, focus groups, recognition and reward programs, flexible work arrangements, and work-life balance initiatives. The focus is on increasing employee motivation, job satisfaction and overall well-being.

It’s important to note that the choice of interventions depends on the specific needs, goals, and challenges of the organization. OD practitioners tailor interventions to the unique context and needs of each organization to maximize their effectiveness.

What is Organizational Development?

Organizational Development (OD) is a field of practice and study that focuses on improving organizational effectiveness and facilitating positive change within organizations. It involves a systematic approach to helping organizations adapt, grow, and thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.

At its core, organizational development is concerned with improving the overall performance, productivity, and well-being of organizations and their employees. It encompasses various strategies, interventions, and processes aimed at aligning the organization’s structure, culture, systems, and people to achieve desired results.

Organizational development recognizes that organizations are complex systems with interrelated parts and dynamics. It takes a holistic view that considers the interplay between people, processes, technology, and the external environment. The goal is to create a supportive and conducive work environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and continuous learning.

Key principles and objectives of organizational development include

  1. Systemic approach: Organizational development views organizations as integrated systems in which changes in one area can have ripple effects throughout the system. It emphasizes the need to address underlying issues and interdependencies rather than focusing on isolated symptoms.
  2. Planned change: Organizational development promotes intentional and systematic change efforts rather than relying on ad hoc or reactive approaches. It emphasizes the importance of diagnosing the current state, setting clear goals, and developing a structured plan to guide change initiatives.
  3. Participatory approach: Organizational development values the involvement and commitment of employees at all levels. It recognizes the importance of collaborative decision-making, open communication, and empowering individuals to contribute their ideas and expertise to drive change.
  4. Continuous learning: Organizational Development fosters a culture of learning and development. It fosters an environment where individuals and teams are encouraged to acquire new knowledge, develop new skills, and continuously improve their performance.
  5. Ethical and humanistic perspective: Organizational development emphasizes ethical behavior, fairness, and the treatment of individuals with dignity and respect. It values the well-being and growth of employees, recognizing that their commitment and satisfaction are critical to the organization’s success.

Organizational development encompasses a wide range of interventions and practices, including leadership development, team building, change management, process improvement, cultural transformation, and employee engagement initiatives. These interventions are designed to address specific challenges, improve organizational effectiveness, and create sustainable change.


Understanding the five stems of OD practice provides valuable insights into the diverse perspectives and historical influences that have shaped the field. Laboratory training, action research or survey feedback, normative approaches, quality of work life, and strategic change represent distinct approaches within the broader field of OD. By drawing on the principles and practices associated with these disciplines, OD practitioners can use a range of tools and techniques to drive positive change, enhance organizational effectiveness, and foster a culture of continuous improvement in today’s dynamic and complex business environment.


What are the 5 stems of OD practice?

  1. Laboratory Training: This refers to the use of experiential learning methods, often conducted in a laboratory-like setting, to improve individual and group behavior. It focuses on improving interpersonal skills, communication, and group dynamics through structured training programs.
  2. Action Research or Survey Feedback: This tribe emphasizes the use of action research methods and feedback processes to diagnose organizational problems and facilitate change. It involves gathering data through surveys or other research methods, analyzing the results, and using them to guide interventions and decision making.
  3. Normative Approaches: Normative approaches in OD focus on establishing and promoting desirable norms, values, and behaviors within the organization. This may include developing ethical standards, defining organizational culture, and aligning individual and organizational values.
  4. Quality of Work Life: This strand focuses on improving the quality of work life for employees. It includes creating a supportive work environment, promoting work-life balance, enhancing employee well-being, and addressing issues such as job satisfaction, stress management, and employee engagement.
  5. Strategic Change: Strategic change refers to the deliberate and planned efforts to align the organization with its strategic goals and adapt to external environmental factors. It involves managing large-scale organizational change initiatives, such as mergers, acquisitions, or shifts in business strategy, to ensure that the organization remains competitive and relevant.

The importance of organizational development

Organizational development allows companies to carry out a process of analysis and changes to improve their productivity, skills, performance and knowledge, both in general and individually.

This helps to face the challenges and problems that arise and to have a much greater capacity for resilience among employees. At the same time, it facilitates a positive resolution of conflicts and challenges.

What are the characteristics of organizational development?

Organizational development has several characteristics, among which the following stand out: sustained organization of groups and individuals, decentralization of areas, focus on problem solving and structural dynamism capable of adapting to different scenarios.

It should be noted that these characteristics of organizational development must be governed by committed change agents in pursuit of the same internal objectives: to increase productivity and improve the work environment.

Organizational development goals

Organizational development goals impact different areas of the company. Among them are the following:

  • Fostering the capacity for integration and collaboration between groups and individuals.
  • Define a balance between organizational needs and professional goals.
  • Continuously evaluate and develop internal information and communication channels.
  • Build and develop corporate identity and a sense of belonging among employees.
  • Seek methods to improve the work climate in order to strengthen labor relations.
  • Encourage a receptive climate in the organization.
  • Cultivate proactivity in the organization’s employees.
  • To have a training management program.

Stages of a company’s Organizational Development

Attraction, recruitment and selection, onboarding, development, retention, exit and employer branding… each phase is equally important for organizational development and the future of a professional in the company.

In our guide we show you how to take advantage of technology to boost the performance of your workforce and take maximum care of each phase.

To achieve a good organizational development it is convenient to follow the following stages:

Effective selection and recruitment

Having an effective personnel selection and recruitment system is the basis of a solid organizational development. A recruitment and selection software allows to accurately define the competencies, capabilities and skills that the company needs for the new position.

In this way, the organization ensures that it is recruiting talented people who are a perfect fit with the company’s mission and values.

Information management

Another key aspect within organizations is the document management of information. Having a human resources software makes it possible to collect job interview analysis, administrative information, corporate documents (contracts and payroll) in a secure, confidential and organized way.

This makes it much easier to quickly search for information in the document repository before making any important decision.

Evaluation and diagnosis

In order to achieve effective organizational development, it is important to constantly monitor the performance of the different departments of a company.

Likewise, it is essential to analyze the work performance of each employee. How can this be achieved? With a detailed performance evaluation to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses within the work system.

In this way, you will easily gather the skills in which you need to progress and that can be enhanced through a training management program.


Organizational development must be integral; that is, it must be fostered among each and every member of the organization.

One of the ways to foster a close relationship with employees is to offer them honest and warm feedback on a constant basis.

We would like to provide you with a guide to the importance of feedback in performance appraisals. It is as important, if not more important, than the system itself. The way in which the employee’s strengths or weaknesses are conveyed is key to helping them develop their talents.

This can be optimized with a survey software that allows first to collect the doubts, opinions and needs of the staff so that managers can express themselves and solve problems quickly and objectively.


Based on the information received from employees or customers of the organization, the company must be able to acclimatize and make the necessary adjustments to prevent these inconveniences from evolving and becoming problems that have a definitive and negative impact on the dynamics and results of work.


Organizational development, in addition to an accurate diagnosis, constant monitoring, dialogue and other evaluation and integration dynamics, must be well led by management.

In this way, it will be much easier to make the changes that each scenario requires, as well as to seek the best alternative when it comes to an expansion or definitive evolution of a key aspect of the business.

Global assessment

The institution must be able to study and analyze its performance in a comprehensive manner in order to make a global review and develop profound changes if necessary.

These characteristics of organizational development will promote better professional performance, resulting in several positive issues, such as brand building, productivity growth, cultivation of a sense of belonging, among other benefits.

What are the components of OD?

The OD process/ programme has three major components i.e. diagnosis, action and effective programme management. Diagnosis refers to collecting data about organisation’s total system, its processes and culture.

What are the types of OD?

As stated above, there are four main groups of OD interventions: human process interventions, techno-structural interventions, human resource management interventions, and strategic change interventions. Let’s dive into examples of organizational development interventions from each of the groups.

What are the phases of OD process?

Entry, Diagnosis, Feedback, Solution and Evaluation.

What are the 5 stages of organizational development?

The 5 Phases of the Organizational Development Process

  • Entry. The entry stage represents the first interaction between the consultant and a client to assess the situation & identify the problem.
  • Diagnosis.
  • Feedback.
  • Solution.
  • Evaluation.


What are the 5 organizational strategies?

‘The strategy wheel model’ includes five types of organization strategy: shared, hidden, false, learning and realized. The content of an organization’s strategy may be heterogeneous in composition. Strategy heterogeneity reflects inconsistencies in or between the contents of the model’s four outer layer strategy types.

What are the three values of OD?

The following are the values in OD efforts:

  • Respect People: People are the raison d’etre of organisation and they are responsible for creating opportunities for growth
  • Confidence and Support
  • Confrontation
  • Employee Participation
  • Expression
  • Seeking Cooperation

What are OD strategies?

An OD strategy is a comprehensive plan based on a thorough analysis of organizational needs and goals.

Included in it are:

  • Desired objectives;
  • Specific interventions aimed at achieving objectives;
  • Time scales;
  • A monitoring, review and evaluation system.

What are OD activities?

Organizational Development (OD) Interventions are structured program designed to solve a problem, thus enabling an organization to achieve the goal. These intervention activities are designed to improve the organization’s functioning and enable managers and leaders to better manage their team and organization cultures.

What is the fifth of five stages in the development of organizations?

Instead, they go through a complex process that involves the 5 stages of group development: The Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning stage.

What is the role of OD practitioner?

An OD practitioner is a person who provides professional services i.e. diagnosing systems, developing interventions, and helping to implement them.

What is the 1st step in Organisational development?

What are the OD interventions?

Organizational development interventions are the programs and processes designed to solve a specific problem. The purpose of these interventions is to improve an organization’s efficiency and help leaders manage more effectively.

What is the role of organizational development?

Organizational development, often abbreviated as OD, improves existing processes and creates new ones. The idea is to understand how to maximize the effectiveness, potential, and capacity of both people and organizations. The science of OD combines industrial/organizational and adult developmental psychology.

What are the types of techno structural interventions?

There are three main types of techno-structural interventions—restructuring, downsizing, and reengineering—which all interrelate.

What are the benefits of Organisational development?

5 Key Benefits of Organizational Development

  • Continuous Improvement: Companies that engage in organizational development commit to continually improving their business and offerings
  • Increased Communication
  • Employee Development
  • Product & Service Enhancement
  • Increased Business Success


What are the objectives of OD program?

The main objectives of OD are to:

Improve organisational performance as measured by profitability, market share, innovativeness, etc. 2. Make organisations better adaptive to its environment which always keeps on changing.

What is the main objective of OD intervention?

Organizational Development (OD) Interventions are structured program designed to solve a problem, thus enabling an organization to achieve the goal. These intervention activities are designed to improve the organization’s functioning and enable managers and leaders to better manage their team and organization cultures.