Change Management Meets Organization Development

“Is Change Management the New OD? What’s the Connection and Who Cares?“

That was the topic I was recently asked to address as part of a panel at a DFW Organization Development Network event a couple of weeks ago. We had a very robust dialogue that day. Over 40 people joined over lunch at the American Airlines HQ.

What do you think about the two fields of practice? How do you feel like they relate to one another? I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions in the comments below.

Those of us on the panel at the DFW ODN event generally agreed that change management (or change leadership, as I prefer to refer to it) is a subset of organization development more holistically. As a field, it has grown out of the massive technology implementations which were primarily driven by ERP solutions, but now applies to projects both large and small which may or may not be technology-related.

We also agreed that our clients get thoroughly confused by all of the jargon those of us who are practitioners throw around. In some ways and in certain situations it’s helpful to differentiate one’s skills. But most clients don’t care if you view yourself as working in Learning & Development, Human Capital, Organization Development, Organization Effectiveness, Human Resources, Change Leadership, or pick-a-new-flavor.

What clients care about are:

  • Eliminating pain points
  • Producing business results

Period! (Well, of course, they care too about the price tag / level of effort involved, but that’s a post for another day . . .)

The rare client insists on a particular methodology to apply, diagnostic instrument to use, or framework for approaching the transformation initiative. Most just seek the reassurance that you have one. It doesn’t matter so much which one it is.

Far too many practitioners, internal or external consultants – both are equally as guilty in my view – get hung up on various tools they like / have used before / recommend. A tool provides no value until you can directly connect it to business outcomes. All OD/Change Management/HCM/L&D/HR/OE professionals would do well to remain firmly grounded in those business outcomes. You just need enough structure to help you accomplish the business goals, and ideally in a way that enables repeatable results.

If you are interested in learning more about the discipline of Change Management as a field of practice, a great resource for you is the Association of Change Management Professionals. Another would be Prosci and their Change Management Learning Center because of the certifications they offer, which have gained a lot of traction in recent years.

If you are interested in learning more about the field of Organization Development, my colleagues in the Organization Development Network would be happy to talk with you more.

Betsy Winkler is Partner at People Results with 20+ years experience in Change Leadership and Organization Development. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1 or on email at