Discussion forum for members of the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How Have You Translated Squishy OD Interventions into Tangible Benefits/Financial Terms?

[Jamie was the winner of our special January giveaway. The was the first installment of the new OD Network Business Acumen webinar series, presented by ODLG member Julia Geisman of Millennium Learning, Inc., who also deserves thanks for getting ODLG this prize.]

I wanted to share some key learning’s from Julia Geisman’s webinar on "Understanding ROI: Measuring the Value of Your OD Interventions".

First, Why Bother? Translating OD/Learning interventions from an expense to an investment can accomplish the following:

*Set priorities

*Gain management support

*Justify the OD budget

*Create a direct link between OD and business initiatives.

The key challenge is transforming “squishy” OD program initiatives into hard data that translates to financial terms. For example, a program to increase employee performance is important why? Well, to increase productivity. By what per cent? Answer: by increasing revenues by 5 percent. OK, so what is the dollar amount of 5 precent of revenues? Now, what is the intervention going to cost and does the outcome/benefit outweigh the cost and effort? Julia has some powerful yet easy to understand and communicate (ie: can be explained to other in 2 minutes or less) calculations for demonstrating cost vs. benefit.

Julia has a knack for drilling down into the business impact of an intervention by asking why, why, why until the “bottom line result” of the intervention is uncovered.

Have you translated OD interventions into dollars and helped clients or internal folks understand the cost/benefits of your work? What’s your approach?

Jamie Resker
Principal, Employee Performance Solutions

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Do different work environments make for different best OD practices?

Our January 17 program meeting was another in our “Best Practices” series. This was the third time we have done one of these “by industry”. On this occasion we had small group discussion of best OD practices in biotech/pharmaceuticals, external consulting, health care, internal consulting, nonprofits, and virtual work environments.

In the reports back to the whole group session, there were many similarities in best ideas. At the same time, there were references to specific characteristics in the particular industry/environment. Just as many job advertisements refer to “three years asparagus industry experience required,” so, too, many business leaders seem to feel that someone who does not have experience working in their industry cannot effectively consult to them. Similar considerations apply, to nonprofit vs. profit-making environments and in government organizations. So the question arises, are there generally applicable best OD practices or does what is best depend on the nature of the particular industry or work environment?

Jim Murphy