The Science of Organization Development

Touchy-feely has nothing to do with it.


I was reading an article tonight that reminded me about the science of what I do. 

As a consultant who works with organizations on what ails them, potential clients often perceive my offer as soft and imprecise. 

I'm getting better at demonstrating the real-world payoff for working with me: engaged employees, aligned organizations, better business results, improved relationships, more sustainable success. 

At the heart of the work is an approach that is analogous to the scientific method: data gathering, hypothesis development, and experimentation to test the hypothesis. We call it “action research” to distinguish it from what you do in physics, for example. But the process is the same.

We see this same approach elsewhere in organizations too, like in product and service development.

One distinction in the social and behavioral sciences is that our results usually cannot be replicated because of the vagaries and complexities of human systems. No two are alike.

Still, with enough rigor, patterns emerge that credibly support hypotheses, and these patterns can then be turned into frameworks. These frameworks can be used in other experiments, and the body of knowledge grows.