Culture and process are typical high priority targets of OD. Culture consists of basic assumptions, values, and norms of behavior that are viewed as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel. As culture has a heavy influence on both thinking and feeling even in highly technical/scientific fields, culture change is seen as necessary for lasting organizational improvement/ change/ transformation.
Primary distinguishing characteristics of OD include:
- Focus on culture and process.
- Encourages collaboration between leaders and members in managing culture and process.
- Teams and groups are typical targets of intervention.
- Focus on the human and social aspects of the organization and in so doing also intervenes in the technological and structural aspects.
- Problem solving and decision making at all levels.
- System thinking and total system change.
- Goal to improve the organizations ability to solve its own problems.
- Continuous learning and self-reflection / self-analysis.
- Action Research - a participative model of iterative diagnosis and taking action.
- Seeks the betterment of both individuals and the organization.
Topics or fields that use methods also used in OD include: the learning organization, change management, organizational transformation, knowledge management, leadership, meeting facilitation/ effective meetings, process analysis, process improvement and business process re-engineering (BPR), strategic planning, total quality improvement, team building. Most of these topics or fields have their own sub-categories in the directory.