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

Friday, January 25, 2008

OD View of Performance Improvement

Here is a very preliminary answer to my own question about the OD view of performance management:

Traditional PM thinking implies that the performance of the organization is the sum of the performance of its individual members. By contrast, the OD view is that the performance of an organization depends primarily on the organizational culture.

Methods to improve individual performance will always be needed, but unless these are linked to and supported by the organizational culture they are not sufficient to create excellence. Many thinkers (such as Peter Block) therefore actually oppose formal performance reviews systems, espousing instead ongoing discussions, relationships, and cultures that foster continual improvement by all members, and of all aspects, of the organization.

“OD-approved” methods for performance improvement would rely on systems thinking, culture change, and intrinsic motivation. Efforts for performance improvement should be designed and implemented via fully participative methods.

A very important aspect of Harvy’s “OD Meets PM” program is its view of performance improvement efforts as an OD intervention. For some more of Harvy’s thinking, see his article “Getting Quality Performance from Your Performance Management Practices”.

Jim Murphy