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What type of Organizational Development or OD Intervention do you need?

By Ruth Tearle

Organizational Development Interventions are carefully designed activities or interventions to help a team, department or organization to achieve a goal or solve a problem. 

OD Interventions library book

There are many thousands of OD interventions. This article shows you the different types of OD interventions, and how to choose which type of OD intervention your organization, department or team needs.

Perhaps you need to plan an organizational development intervention for your team. You've studied all the OD models and methodologies. You know the work of all the OD gurus. You've looked at all the templates in the OD field, but they are too vague or theoretical. You are faced with a specific team problem. You need to act now.

From all the millions of organizational development templates, models and approaches, how do you choose something practical? Something that will give you and your clients the results that they expect?

How do you choose the right OD intervention? Which organizational development or change management tool, workshop activity or intervention should you choose? How do you know what will work best in your context?

The starting point is to be clear about your objectives. Then choose the appropriate OD intervention based on what you as a leader, want to achieve.

Read more about how to diagnose an organizational situation, choose the best intervention, and get support from your clients with our new OD Interventions library book on Amazon This is the first book in a series of OD interventions books designed to help you choose and implement the best interventions for your client's needs.

Team building or bonding.

You need to build a team due to one of the following:

  • 10 team building interventions
    • A merger.
    • An organizational restructure.
    • A new team or project team.
    • New members joining an existing team.
    • A new leader joining an existing team.
    • Conflict within a team.
    • A need to get people from different departments or areas working together
    • A team of survivors with low morale after retrenchments.
    • A team that needs to improve its performance to achieve a new target.

    Appropriate OD interventions include:

      Basic team building. Getting people to know what to expect from one another, and how to work together in a way that brings out the best in each team member.
    • Building common values for the team.
    • Crafting a vision for the team.
    • Creating a role for the team.
    • Use the activities in the Powerful Facilitation Cards or in the team building section of the OD interventions library.
    • Improving team performance of existing teams.

  • Creating new paradigms.

    You want to your team to challenge existing paradigms. You want them to:

    How to change business paradigms
    • Identify new opportunities for the team.
    • Develop new ways of delighting their internal and external customers.
    • Develop new 'value added services and products that will excite their customers.
    • Imagine the future.
    • Get creative.
    • Think 'out of the box.'

    Appropriate OD interventions include:

    • Providing research about changing strategic trends.
    • Running a brainstorming session where the team brainstorms new opportunities for their area, as a result of these trends.(See our free OD intervention workshop design for brainstorming opportunities from trends.)
    • Running a session where the team looks at how to use their strengths in a different way.
    • A creative team based strategic planning workshop.

    Strategic planning.

    You need to develop a new strategic plan or team vision for the following reasons:

    Strategy for CEOs: a step-by-step guide
    • A merger/takeover.
    • An organizational restructuring. You need to determine a new role for your team.
    • A new corporate strategy, vision or culture that your team needs to support.
    • New stakeholders with new expectations of your team.
    • Your organization wants you to cut costs without destroying value.
    • Changes in the external environment of your organization means that the rules for success have changed, and your team now needs to develop a new strategy.

    Appropriate OD interventions include:

    • Team based strategic planning - including stakeholder analyzes, trend analyzes, internal analyzes, customer and competitor analyzes.
    • Developing a scenario of the future context within which your team will need to operate.
    • Defining a role or new vision for your team within its new context.
    • Identifying new opportunities for your team.
    • Developing new strategies for your team.
    • Defining each person's role in implementing your team strategies.

    Communicating your vision. Getting buy in and action.

    You've already developed a strategic plan. Now you need to:

    • Communicate it to all employees in your area.
    • Get them motivated and excited about contributing to the vision. (See the OD intervention for a creative vision activity that builds excitement around a new vision, strategy or set of values.)
    • Get them to contribute actively towards achieving the vision.

    Appropriate OD interventions include:

    For simply communicating:

    • Virtual communications such as videos, newsletters, websites, emails, and use of social networking sites.
    • Face to face communications such as presentations, briefings and road shows in which the leader and his team present the new vision.

    For getting buy-in.

    • Workshops which combine communications with activities designed to achieve understanding and buy-in.
    • Use a cascading role definition process in which everyone in the company analyses how their roles and what they do each day, needs to change, to support the new organizational strategy.
    • Competitions with incentives to reward actions that support the new vision or strategy.
    • Fine tuning your performance management system to link individual/divisional goals to your new vision.

    Organizational Culture change

    You need to change the culture of the organization for the following reasons:

    • You need people to behave in a way that supports a new strategy.
    • You want people to behave in ways that will allow your organization to be successful within a future world.
    • You want people to be 'customer focused' or innovative to enable your organization to be more competitive.
    • Changes in the external environment of your organization means that the rules for success have changed, and your people now needs to adopt new attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and skills.

    Appropriate OD interventions include:

    • Developing new values and rolling out these values throughout the organization.
    • Developing and orchestrating a number of different journeys with different role players, that result in everyone in the organization living by the new values.
    • Helping managers and employees to understand the new beliefs they need to adopt to be successful within a changing world.

    Planning change.

    You find it difficult to implement a new strategy or manage change because:change-game

    • Your organization is involved in too many changes at once.
    • You have some complex problems that need to be resolved, and there doesn't seem to be an easy answer.
    • You need to implement a new organizational vision. But the vision that you need to cascade down to your team is not clear!
    • Your team is already stressed out from doing their existing jobs, and you now need them to take on new work, or get involved in additional projects.
    • You are facing resistance to change, yet people are not being honest to you. There are many hidden agendas.
    • Previous change processes haven't worked.
    • You find it difficult to sustain the excitement and energy needed to implement your changes.

    Appropriate OD interventions include:

    • Using a systems thinking tool such as The Change Puzzle to diagnose the situation and to choose a few core changes that your team needs to focus on. i.e. the 20% of changes that will yield 80% benefit to your team.
    • Selecting the tools you need to achieve your chosen changes. Understand the roles that need to be played to ensure the changes are sustained.
    • Developing an integrated change management strategy together with your team.


    You and your team lack the energy needed for change. You as team leader:

    • Feel bogged down at the thought of having to implement your organization's new vision or projects.
    • Feel weary or depressed.
    • Get frustrated too often. You find yourself complaining a lot.
    • Feel that the fun and excitement has gone out of work.
    • Are continually having to deal with negativity or conflict at work.
    • Seem to have lost control over your life.
    • Want to leave the organization, but are concerned whether this is the right thing to do.

    Appropriate OD interventions include:

    • Identify and deal with causes of poor morale in your team.
    • Solve team problems that prevent your team from working effectively together.
    • Thinking like a coach of a winning sports team. Know when it is time to train hard, run a marathon, peak and recover.
    • dont-pushAfter a period of working under stress, take the whip off your and your team's back. Recognize what your team has achieved during the time they were under stress - as well as what was not quite perfect. Acknowledge the difficulties and challenges that you and your team had to overcome. Don't allow stress to become a habit!
    • Help employees overcome their fears, and tackle something great.
    • When you are just tired, or demotivated, do things outside of work that to reduce your stress. e.g. exercise, and massages.
    • Recognize the signs of burnout - in yourself and in your team members. (The initial signs are weariness, and things just seeming too difficult.)
    • When you spot burnout - insist on the most appropriate intervention:- A vacation! A holiday means having the discipline to disconnect from all work related stimulation. This includes emails, phone calls, and social media.
    • When you need to get inspired again, you need to reconnect with your personal values, create your own personal vision/mission or try out different belief systems.
    • Read books and use daily inspirational cards that will help you to rediscover your passion and enthusiasm.

    You may also like:


    • OD Interventions library Use this library of 1 and 2 hour OD interventions when you need quick, practical activities for a meeting, conference or workshop.
    • OD Interventions books Our Organizational Development Library of books on Amazon.
    • OD resources for teamsA library of practical articles, guides, diagnostic tools, case studies, dashboards and solutions to use when working with teams.
    • OD resources for organizationsA library of practical articles, guides, diagnostic tools, case studies, dashboards and solutions to use when doing OD on an organization wide level.

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