Benefits of Process Interventions


Group Process: Wait…don’t groan

That’s right, another lecture about working well in groups. Why so many? It’s simple, groups done well turn to teams, and teams can get more done, and better, than a group of individuals. There are three factors of working in teams that affect the quality of performance: what the team does (task), how the team does it (process), and productivity (Herold, 1978). All three legs of the stool must be solid in order to perform at a high level that creates a strong business culture, opportunities for the business, and career success. Process interventions ensure that the team is able to realize these benefits through quality task and process alignment.

Recipe for quality teams

Empowerment: Involve team members in planning and strategizing how to get the job done. Understanding that learning must precede change, called the Universal Change Principle, is the first step in dissolving resistance to change (Lick, 2000).

Synergy: The magic that turns a group of individuals into a team is called synergy. Teams with synergy have a culture and pattern of interaction all their own. According to Lick (2000), “Members of a synergistic…[team] inspire and energize each other, and the openness and diversity of perspectives create new ideas, knowledge, and problem-solving potential” (pg. 46).

Trust: Is essential for team success. There is a fear of failure that compels teams toward success (Glassman, 1975). Trust in your teammates builds confidence in the completion of tasks, the team process, and the outcome. In other words, trust affects the quality of all three legs of the stool.

Interaction: Promoting both formal and informal opportunities for interaction encourages the development of trust and synergy and team members express their empowerment through advocating for their ideas. This ingredient, effective interaction, is often where groups struggle during when navigating more socially complex tasks (Herold, 1978). It’s a common entry point for process consultations by O.D. professionals. When teams interact and communicate well they grow and evolve to higher performance.

Derailing effective teamwork

These symptoms indicate a need for process interventions as they can derail team cohesion.

Jockeying for position: When groups lack trust and a common vision, members jockey for formal status (Glassman, 1975) preventing the formation of an effective team. Rotating leadership responsibility or restructuring the team’s reporting process might be in order.

Finding a common scapegoat: Has your group every complained about that “one person” that, if gone, would make everything better? This type of behavior indicates the group has identified a common scapegoat, or one person to blame for all the inefficiency in the group process (Glassman, 1975). Rarely is one person responsible for the group’s ills. Instead, the group’s inability to form a team can be linked to issues of empowerment, trust, and interaction.

Often different expectations between consultant and client can lead to ineffective processes. Plan your team’s workflow to include empowerment, trust, and interaction to create synergy that will make your team a source, not for groans, but for cheers.


Glassman, A. (1975). Team consultation: a revealing analysis. Academy of Management Proceedings , 116-118.

Herold, D. (1978). Improving the performance effectiveness of groups through a task-contingent slection of intervention strategies. Academy of Management Review , 3 (2), 315-325.

Lick, D. (2000). Whole faculty study groups: facilitating mentoring for school-wide change. Theory Into Practice , 39 (1), 43-49.


An Integrated Approach to Change

Victor and Franckeiss, experts in change management, introduced a model of change called “The Five Dimensions of Change” in 2002. This post is a summary of their article.

Change management does not follow a neat line from start to finish. In fact, while an organization is going through planning for change, it is also dealing with change at all management levels. Due to this dynamic environment, a cyclical model is necessary to understand and evolve toward successful change practices.

Although the model set forth by the authors is similar to the 5 stage O.D. processes discussed in module two, there is an important enhancement. The process is directed to organizations and gives them more direction on how to institute comprehensive, integrated, change.

The Five Dimensions of Change

D1 – Direct

This stage ensures the overall direction and purposes of the business. At this stage, the organization should consider their vision, mission, and value statements in relation to the external business environment. The resulting strategies should be well defined and communicated to all stakeholders to ensure they are internalized.

D2 – Describe

At this stage management is responsible for translating the aspirational statements defined in stage one into strategies (or plans of action) for achieving goals. The strategies need to be customized to the functional level, with the vision in mind. Victor and Franckeiss assert that there are four principle strategies that ensure integration of constancy of purpose and consistency of approach.

  1. Resource strategy—the design and structure of the business and HR planning
  2. Performance management strategy – ensures that all  functions, teams, and individuals understand their roles and requirements
  3. Reward strategy – pay structure, benefits, and bonuses that are in-line with the company’s vision
  4. Communications strategy – internal and external communication, employee relations, employee attitude surveys

D3 – Define

This is the part that is less glamorous, but critical to the success of change efforts. Defining involves business processes, policies and procedures that support business strategies. Clear and straightforward communication helps ensure that the organization doesn’t slide back into old ways.

D4 – Deliver

Now it’s time to deliver the change consistently as defined in the preceding sections. At this point, managing by example is essential. The management team must consistently demonstrate the behaviors expected of employees during and after the change in order to ensure them that the changes are sincere and there to stay. Any inconsistency can be exploited by those resistant to the changes. All employees must understand what behaviors are expected and successes should be defined and measured to reinforce the changes.

D5 – Develop

The fifth stage is about more than evaluating and feedback, it’s about keeping the communication system open. This stage presents the opportunity for continuous learning. Feedback should come not only from internal processes, but from the external environment through such common analyses as SWOT and PEST. If the environment warrants it, it’s time to start the process again.

As evidenced by this process, communication and leadership are critical characteristics to successful change processes.

Victor, P., & Franckeiss, A. (2002). The five dimensions of change: an integrated approach to strategic organizational change management. Strategic Change, 11(1), 35-42. doi:10.1002/jsc.567.

Quantitative, Qualitative, or Process – making the choice

Making a choice between quantitative, qualitative, and process data gathering is not as much a choice of which one to use—but which one to use at which point in your organizational development plan. The first step in identifying when to gather each kind of data is to understand the differences between them.


Qualitative data

Qualitative data is descriptive; it makes distinctions based on qualities. An example of this is interviews that try to describe the morale in a company by grouping the kinds of feedback they received from employees. Qualitative information is delivered in non-numeric forms: force field analysis, diagrams, consumer profiles, etc. Qualitative data generally comes from focus groups and interviews. This “soft” data is invaluable in determining what kinds of questions to ask in subsequent surveys. It’s a great form of information to diagnose problems before gathering further data.

Quantitative data

This type of data is what researchers call “hard data” because the communication of the data comes in numerical form. The numbers gathered define the problem the researcher is interested in, can be statistically analyzed, and are represented in charts and graphs to communicate trends and analysis. The appeal of quantitative data is that it is verifiable. This form of data is gathered through surveys and answers delivered through a Likert (numerical) scale.

Process data

A process can be defined as a systematic series of actions with a goal in mind. In OD, interventions are processes. Management is a process. Human resources is a process. There are a variety of opportunities to collect process data. This form of data is gathered through observation of the group or interpersonal process. Have you ever wished someone could be a fly on the wall in your group meeting and give you some insight on why the group is dysfunctional? The OD expert would be the fly on the wall in this scenario. The focus in process data is not WHAT the group is doing, but HOW they are doing it. This type of data is most useful in the beginning as a diagnostic tool, and at the end as the company is learning to use new ways of working together.


Further Reading

The articles below show qualitative, quantitative, and process data approaches in use.


Easley, C., & Alvarez-Pompilius, F. (2004). A New Paradigm for Qualitative Investigations: Towards an Integrative Model for Evoking Change. Organization Development Journal, 22(3), 42-58. Retrieved from Business Source Complete database. <<PDF attached>>


Pilenzo, R. (2009). A New Paradigm for HR. Organization Development Journal, 27(3), 63-75. Retrieved from Business Source Complete database. <<PDF attached>>


Linklater, J., & Kellner, K. (2008). Don’t just do something … stand there: using action learning to help organisations work with anxiety. Action Learning: Research & Practice, 5(2), 167-172. doi:10.1080/14767330802185855. <<PDF attached>>


Name the Game Part 2: Coaching or Consulting?

In 2008 published an article that business coaching was booming ( I read this article again today, and just came upon a blog post titled, “Are you doing OD, Training, Consulting, Coaching, all of these?” ( and I got to thinking; what’s in the name?

The distinctions are somewhat arbitrary, yet a recent search on Google returned over 3 million results for Business Coach, over 4 million for Organizational Develop Consultant, and over 24 million for Organizational Training. At the core, these functions are the same; they are based on awareness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for marketing and branding. I’m an MBA in marketing after all. I’ll make the case here for describing OD’s value to the client in an authentic way. The current system of differentiating based on fine distinctions is adding a complexity to the profession that is doing more to confuse than add clarity.

Merriam Webster defines “authentic” as “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.” In this case the fact that underlies training, OD consulting, and coaching is genuine awareness. The difference is not found in the stature of the profession, the results possible, or even the length of time or client relationship. The real difference is in the approach to reaching awareness and balance. Balance, then, can lead to results.

  • Training uses needs analysis to gain awareness into the knowledge gaps of employees and the company. Trainers then plan a program to close those gaps.
  • Coaches use a Socratic method to question and probe individuals to uncover areas for improvement and growth. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence reign in this approach and can lead to more dynamic leadership.
  • OD consultants use qualitative, quantitative, and process based approaches to identify “road blocks” within the organization. Although further removed than in coaching, the leadership team must be brought to an understanding, an awareness, of issues in the organization that are limiting success.

It’s not easy to face the deficiencies that may be stopping you, your group, or your organization from succeeding. There is plenty of advice on choosing a coach, a trainer, or a consultant, but at the core, I suggest you find one that can authentically bring awareness to you and your organization.

I invite your comments.

You’re a great friend, even though…

I was at a seminar where the speaker said something interesting.

He had a best friend in college who is black. He said to the friend that he didn’t even think of him as black, like that made their friendship better. The friend turned around and asked him how he would feel if he said the reverse. That he was a good friend, even though he was white? They discussed it; yes, they are still friends to this day.

That reminded me of the time I told a good friend (male) once that I didn’t even think of him as a guy, that he was like one of the girls. What do you think that did to his conception of his male identity?

When people say that “race shouldn’t matter” in hiring, what are you saying about what is acceptable in terms of identity? What affect do comments such as this do to an individual’s development of racial identity?

If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend the book, “Why do all the Black Kids Sit Together in the Cafeteria?” It’s great book that deals with, among other things, the development of racial identity.

My kids, both boys, are 1/2 East Indian, 1/4 German, and 1/4 Scandinavian. We get into interesting discussions about what it means to be “them” and how others perceive them. There are times when people ask me who’s kids they are. (They are lighter like their father, olive skinned I guess.) If you know my husband and I, you can tell they are our kids. Naturally my kids want to know why they are asking. I let them ask that person the question. They never do get a straight answer.

Once another child told them they couldn’t vote for our current president (in elections at school) because they are white. We talk about these instances. Why people say these things, how they feel about it, what they’ll do going forward. It’s a tightrope we walk, and although it’s kind of scary, it’s also exhilarating!

I invite your comments.

What do you really want? Name the game.

I recently read a post on called “Name that Title” ( that captures the multiple-identity confusion often found in the field of Organizational Development. You’ve read about OD, OE, OT, and the field is also referred to as “Change Management.” Christopher Janney (2010) lists a variety of job titles advertised on popular job search sites. He found the following:

  • Director of Professional Development
  • Director, Organizational Effectiveness
  • Change Management Associate
  • Strategic Communication and Change Manager

What Janney (2010) found was that the positions were looking for essentially the same things:

  • Strategic and operational leadership
  • Expertise in organizational effectiveness, change management, organizational design, and talent development
  • Plan programs
  • Influence change
  • Increase organizational success (results and efficiency)
  • Leaders who can coach, facilitate, and essentially motivate

For what end you might ask? To help people and processes adapt to change.

I believe two of the most important skills new graduates in any field can display are adaptability and persistence. Adaptability is important because things will change. Expect it. Embrace it. However, change is hard and sometimes you must just persist through it. There has to be a compelling reason to persist, and that’s what leaders in the field need to provide, the tools to adapt and the vision to persist, regardless of their titles.



What the Email Etiquette Sites Won’t Teach You

How much time do you spend trying to think of what you’ll say? Most Americans spend the time they should be listening thinking about their next move or their next argument. We’re so focused on ourselves, that we forget the most important part of communication – the transfer of meaning. Author John Reh’s article (n.d.) titled “Getting My Point Across” ( states that it’s more important to concentrate on what you want the other person to hear vs. what you want to say.

How can you possibly control that; you might wonder. After all, I tell my kid not to bounce the ball, and all he hears, is “bounce ball.” This example goes to show that crafting your message is crucial. What if I’d said, “take the ball outside.” With this message, considered from my listener’s point of view, I might get better results because I know my listener, my kid. Any excuse to go outside and he’s there. The process is not that different when you are talking to peers.

First, get to know them. Consider his or her communicating style preference. Does he prefer a lot of facts; is she the type that wants you to get to the bottom line; should you start with a question about the family; do you need to start out with an attention grabber? These styles are four buckets that fit the general tendencies of most people.

Second, what channel will you use? Contrary to popular culture, email and text are not the best ways to get your meaning across, but they are the easiest. Opt for as close as you can get to face to face whenever possible so that you can add important no-verbal signals to your words. That might be Skype, the phone, or the good old fashioned walk over to the desk method.

Finally, communicating with others is not about proving you’re smart, it’s about being smart. Don’t use “big words” or jargon to show off what you know. If you are talking to the accounting department, don’t use acronyms common to your work in marketing. Be straightforward and say exactly what you mean. I call this the, “Get in and get out” method. If I mean sales are decreasing every three months, that’s what I’ll say. If I’m unhappy with the response time from shipping I’m not going to spout policy and jargon. I’m going to say that I want to work with shipping to improve response time so we can keep our customers happy. As Reh (n.d.) says in his article, “If you want your service department to handle more calls per day, tell them that. Don’t tell them they need to “reduce the time interval between customer-interface opportunities” (para. 7). Get in, get out, done.

Step outside your head and see from the perspective of your audience to be more successful in transferring your message.