Organisation Development (OD) and Instructional Design

Let me start with a loud “thank you” to everyone who joined our OD conversation on 6 December. We were honoured to welcome Rod Barnett – past VP of the International Organisation Development Association (IODA)along with corporate and private practitioners from South Africa. One delegate joined from his hospital bed in between doctor’s rounds! That was a first – and we all wish our colleague a speedy recovery from surgery.

On the call we explored cases of the relationship between Organisation Development and Instructional Design. Practitioners shared cases where instructional design skills were embedded in the OD project team – adding value in a variety of ways. 

We heard about developing “shared language” to strengthen “shared vision” – where instructional designers can play a role in creatively and engagingly bringing all stakeholders onto the same page insofar as “what we mean” when we communicate in large-scale systems change. Programs often stall as stakeholders struggle to find common ground around the issues, and instructional designers have great techniques for understanding stakeholder context and communication needs. They build on those with their mastery of the content development and learning management platforms – facilitating alignment and early engagement.

We heard about instructional designers using their expertise to ensure that inclusivity was baked-in to transformation work – reaching wider, deeper, and faster into the organisation than had been possible without their expertise.

We also heard cases where it was not possible to include good instructional design (cases such as the overnight pandemic pivot for a 60,000 field-employee firm). Unable to continue face-to-face field training and supervision, they turned to crude-hybrid solutions to develop and support their 60,000 employees. That helped them to cope immediately but has left a developmental gap that they are only now closing out with increasingly sophisticated blended learning. This allows them to take the best of the pandemic learning along with the pain of the pandemic disruption and build a new way of work, deeply supported by good instructional design.

We heard about instructional designers’ excellence in program evaluation – at making sense of whether their efforts are delivering the required outcomes. At their best, well designed programs deliver new behaviours, not just new knowledge. Evaluating whether those outcomes are being achieved is a superpower of instructional designers that is a great contribution on an Organisation Development project.

There was so much more, and hopefully other colleagues will post about their experiences on our LinkedIn platform. Follow us on LinkedIn to join that conversation.

What we could all agree on was that Instructional Designers and Organisation Development practitioners will benefit from working closely with each other – and that together they can make a more powerful contribution to group and organisational transformation efforts.

Thanks again to every participant – we appreciate the work you do to enhance organisational performance in a healthy way. Follow us on LinkedIn and join our January conversation where we explore Leadership Development Programs – what difference are they making in South Africa?