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Topics: Skill, Competence, Four stages of competence Pages: 11 (1383 words) Published: March 29, 2013
Competencies for Practicing Organization Development—Version 20

This list was developed when 381 people responded to our online survey. The survey was developed from feedback we received the previous few years on the latest or the nineteenth version of our research. What you have below are the variables that people rated 4.4 or higher on a 5-point scale. We wish to thank Jaime Jusidman, president of, for donating the technology.

At the end of this report, we are hinting at emerging competencies.

We learned from Dr. Don Cole, RODC, in the early 1970s, that defining knowledge and skill necessary for competence in OD was essential for building the field of OD into a profession. Ken Benne created the first OD skill list at NTL in the 1950s. In the late 1970s, with his list in mind, I (Roland) invited fifty or so recognized experts in the field of OD to tell us the skills needed for practicing OD.

Respondents included Dick Beckhard, Jack and Lorraine Gibb, Herb Sheppard, Ron and Gordon Lippitt, Kathie Dannemiller, Warren Bennis, Shel Davis, Pat and Gay Williams, Warner Burke, Bob Chin, Gerard Egan, Robert Blake, R. Golembiewski, Carl Rogers, Charlie and Edie Seashore, Don Cole, Bob Tannenbaum, and Ken Benne.

Roland Sullivan

William J. Rothwell

The Essential Competencies for
Practicing OD Effectively
20th Version


Be aware of systems wanting to change.

Be known to those needing you.

Match skills with potential client profile.

Convey qualifications in a credible manner.

Quickly grasp the nature of the system.

Determine appropriate decision makers.


Build trusting relationships.

Deal effectively with resistance.

Help the client trust the process.

Help the client manage emotionally charged feelings.

Collaboratively design the change process.


Further clarify real issues.

Be aware of how one’s biases influence interaction.

Link change effort into ongoing organizational processes.

Identify informal power.


Determine the type of data needed.

Clarify boundaries for confidentiality.

Select a process that will facilitate openness.


Watch for deeper issues as data is gathered.

Suspend judgment while gathering data.

Recognize what is relevant.

Know how data from different parts of the system impact each other.

Stay focused on the purpose of the consultancy.


Prepare leadership for the truth.

Involve participants so they begin to own the process.

Create a non-threatening atmosphere.


Distill recommendations from the data.

Consider creative alternatives.


Obtain commitment from leadership.

Co-create an implementation plan that is rooted in the data.

Co-create implementation plan that is clear.

Co-create implementation plan that is results-oriented.

Co-create implementation plan that is measurable.


Reduce dependency on the consultant.

Instill responsibility for follow-through.

Intervene at the right depth.

Redesign intervention or mindfully respond to new dynamics.

Re-plan as unexpected circumstances arise.


Initiate ongoing feedback in client-consultant relationship.

Choose appropriate evaluation methods (that is, interviews, instruments, financial sheets) to collect evaluation information.

Determine level of evaluation, such as reaction, learning, behavioral change, organizational impact, societal impact.

Ensure evaluation is reliable.

Ensure evaluation method is practical.


Establish method to monitor change after the intervention.

Use information to reinforce positive change.

Use information to take next steps.

Link evaluation with expected outcomes.


Transfer change skills to internal consultant so learning is continuous.

Link change process to daily life of system.

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