One of the founders of the field, Richard Beckhard defines Organization Development as: an effort (1) planned, (2) organization-wide, and (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health through (5) planned interventions in the organizations "processes,” using behavioral-science knowledge.
Other definitions from leaders in the Organization Development Network provide the following definitions:
"OD is a field directed at interventions in the processes of human systems (formal and informal groups, organizations, communities, and societies) in order to increase their effectiveness and health using a variety of disciplines, principally applied behavioral sciences. OD requires practitioners to be conscious about the values guiding their practice and focuses on achieving its results through people." Arnold Minors, Arnold Minors & Associates, Toronto, Canada
"Organization Development is a body of knowledge and practice that enhances organizational performance and individual development, viewing the organization as a complex system of systems that exist within a larger system, each of which has its own attributes and degrees of alignment. OD interventions in these systems are inclusive methodologies and approaches to strategic planning, organization design, leadership development, change management, performance management, coaching, diversity, and work/life balance." Matt Minahan, MM & Associates, Silver Spring, Maryland
One of the things that distinguishes Organization Development consultants from management consultants or process consultants is that the practice of OD is grounded in a distinctive set of core values and principles that guide behavior and actions. Those values and principles include:
Key Values include:
Respect and Inclusion – equitably values the perspective and opinions of everyone.
Collaboration – builds collaborative relationships between the practitioner and the client while encouraging collaboration throughout the client system.
Authenticity – strives for authenticity and congruence and encourages these qualities in their clients
Self-awareness – commits to developing self-awareness and interpersonal skills. OD practitioners engage in personal and professional development through lifelong learning.
Empowerment –focuses efforts on helping everyone in the client organization or community increase their autonomy and empowerment to levels that make the workplace and/or community satisfying and productive.