Not all OD programs contain all the possible intervention activities, but a wide range of activities is available to the practitioner. As we see it, the following are the major “families” or types of OD interventions.
1. Diagnostic Activities: Fact-finding activities designed to ascertain the state of the system, the status of a problem, the “way things are.” Available methods range from projective devices such as build a collage that represents for you your place in this organization to the more traditional data collection methods of interviews, questionnaires, surveys, and meetings.
2. Team-Building Activities: Activities designed to enhance the effective operation of system teams. They may relate to task issues, such as the way things are done, the needed skills to accomplish tasks, the resource allocations necessary for task accomplishments; or they may relate to the nature and quality of the relationships between the team members or between members and the leader. Again, a wide range of activities is possible. In addition, consideration is given to the different kinds of teams that may exist in the organization, such as formal work teams, temporary task force teams, newly constituted teams, and cross-functional teams.
3. Intergroup Activities: Activities designed to improve effectiveness of interdependent groups. They focus on joint activities and the output of the groups considered as a single system rather than as two subsystems. When two groups are involved, the activities are generally designated intergroup or interface activities; when more than two groups are involved, the activities are often called organizational mirroring.
4. Survey Feedback Activities: Related to and similar to the diagnostic activities mentioned in that they are a large component of those activities. However, they are important enough in their own right to be considered separately. These activities center on actively working the data produced by a survey and designing action plans based on the survey data.
5. Education and Training Activities: Activities designed to improve skills, abilities, and knowledge of individuals. There are several activities available and several approaches possible. For example, the individual can be educated in isolation from his or her own work group (say, in a T-group comprised of strangers), or one can be educated in relation to the work group (say, when a work team learns how better to manage interpersonal conflict). The activities may be directed toward technical skills required for effective task performance or may be directed toward improving interpersonal competence. The activities may be directed toward leadership issues, responsibilities and functions of group members, decision making, problem solving, goal setting and planning, and so forth.
6. Structural Activities: Activities designed to improve the effectiveness of the technical or structural inputs and constraints affecting individuals or groups. The activities may take the form of (a) experimenting with new organization structures and evaluating their effectiveness in terms of specific goals or (b) devising new ways to bring technical resources to bear on problems.
7. Process Consultation Activities: Activities on the part of the consultant that help the client to perceive, understand, and act upon process events which occur in the client’s environment. These activities perhaps more accurately describe an approach, a consulting mode in which the client is given insight into the human processes in organizations and taught skills in diagnosing and managing them. Primary emphasis is on processes such as communications, leader and member roles in groups, problem solving and decision making, group norms and group growth, leadership and authority, and intergroup cooperation and competition.
8. Coaching and Counseling Activities: Activities that entail the consultant or other organization members working with individuals to help them (a) define learning goals, (b) learn how others see their behavior, and (c) learn new modes of behavior to see if these help them to achieve their goals better. A central feature of this activity is the non-evaluative feedback given by others to an individual. A second feature is the joint exploration of alternative behaviors.
9. Planning and Goal-Setting Activities: Activities that include theory and experience in planning and goal setting, utilizing problem-solving models, planning paradigms, ideal organization versus real organization “discrepancy” models, and the like. The goal of all of them is to improve these skills at the levels of the individual, group, and total organization.
10. Strategic Management Activities: Activities that help key policy makers reflect systematically on their organization’s basic mission and goals and environmental demands, threats, and opportunities and engage in long-range action planning of both a reactive and proactive nature. These activities direct attention in two important directions: outside the organization to a consideration of the environment, and away from the present to the future.