Specifities for the organizational development in the digital tranformation job

In the preparation of E20 SUMMIT I rediscovered a good reading in a handbook for organizational development about the competences of OD (organizational development) practitioners by Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge. Though written in 2010 the handbook essentially scopes the challenges of the OD task from a classical understanding of a one-stop change intervention in the organization. It’s not related to the usage of social technology neither as impetus nor as enabler and supporter for change.

Still the writing lists very nicely the basic skills needed for a successful organizational development:

  • Trained in behavioral science
  • Knowledge of how organizations work
  • Specific areas of expertise in conducting different types of interventions
  • Strong group processes skills and a working knowledge of group dynamics
  • A working knowledge of complex change and know-how to support clients to navigate through the change
  • Understanding and curiosity about how to work with diverse human dynamics
  • A clear sense of their own values and ethics and how to translate them into practice
  • A clear sense about who they are and how they work
  • Willing to work on our unresolved issues

Organizational Development Competences By Cheung-Judge (2010)

In one of my last posts I had already referenced to the seven traits for the digital transformation that the people of McKinsey have listed. Those traits are very much about the strategic approach and the digital savviness that is needed for the change management of the digital transition. Besides these traits I see some more specificities in regards tot he OD competences for these project that I like to discuss in the following.

Organization development by social brings in its own rules

But in comparison with the traditional organizational development that is characterized by a one-time impetus – mainly because of an realized issue within the organizational structure – and a process of diagnosis and a strategic evaluation & planning of an one-time intervention – the change happening in the process of the digital transformation is less targeted and top-down planned. It’s rather a more agile and continuous change process.

Furthermore – while the long-term and strategic objective of the digital transformation may be well envisioned by the leaders and the management of the organization – the concrete benefits for the application of social in the enablement of the transformation are not obvious beforehand.

The practices of good social adoption on the individual and group level also show that is more an approach of multiple small adoption processes than one big waterfall approach. Thereforanother specific challenge for the change process is the manageable scalability of the change management process. This needs a strategic approach – e.g. by the establishment of a guide concept as practiced by Continental.

On the level of the organizational change the specific challenges of the digital transformation are the adhoc moments of political tensions that are very much critical to the success of the overall initiative. So the ability to manage various unsystematically appearing political tensions is another key compentence for successful digital change managers. This needs a good backing of the person with a network of senior management champions that help to convince obstructors on the way.

While thinking about these specific moments of change management challenges for the digital transformation process I came along four key moments that are specific in comparison to a traditional one-stop/top-down OD intervention:

  • Identification of good starting points – in regards to business issues and business problems to be easily solved with a better information flow and a transparent knowledge sharing. The challenge is to find the “low hanging fruits” that can be easily picked and promoted as good practices for further adoption.
  • Enablement of adoption & behavioral change on a broad scale. The challenge is about how to manage systematically a wide range of small adoption projects. The limits are clearly set with the headcount of the core team – therefore a strategic approach towards a decentralized management approach is needed.
  • Support of the organizational change. Because the establishment of social technology is also disruptive to the organizational structure there will be tensions that appear manifold. The handling and solving of these tensions – so that they are not counteracting for the success of the initiative – is a very intense challenge.
  • Promotion of good practices. While for the traditional one-stop intervention the promotion of the good practices of the changed behavior are important for further development of the project, the promotion of good practices in the digital transformation process are essential for the success of the project.

The specific competences for the change management approach derived from these challenges are additional to the overall OD capabilities:

E20 Change Management Challenges & Needed Competences

What do you think about these specific competences? Do you have any comments?

At the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT we are having some expert talks and workshops that address these new capabilities. If you are interested, do not miss to save your ticket.






  1. Lee Bryant says:

    Interesting to delve back into the old world of OD, where there are certainly experiences and ideas to learn from today.

    I think you are right to point to the key issue that change needs to be ongoing, gradual, evolutionary and owned by the organisation not just the leadership.

    Frederic Laloux spoke about the evolutionary purpose of organisations in London yesterday, and the need to sense and respond as a driver of change: http://postshift.com/frederic-laloux-there-is-something-in-the-air/

    We have a very clear and simple methodology for pursuing this goal, starting from an understanding of which organisational capabilities a company will need to respond to changing market dynamics in the future, and we have outlined some of it here: http://postshift.com/the-quantified-organisation-can-change-become-routine/

    I will be including some of this thinking in my E2.0 Masterclass on Feb 3.