Nothing stands still. A small business acknowledging that might embrace organizational development, commonly referred to in business as OD. Companies practicing OD commit to continually evolving in order to face changes both inside and outside a company. The process begins with a diagnostic evaluation, which suggests possible change strategies. The chosen strategy is planned, implemented, and evaluated for effectiveness, and then the process starts all over again.

Advantage: Constant Renewal

A small business that adopts OD is building perpetual renewal into its way of doing business. This is a proactive approach that capitalizes on change instead of resisting it. The company stays current and is better able to adjust to the demands of its industry and market. Companies successfully enacting organizational development position themselves to meet the future.

Disadvantage: Cost

Organizational development cannot successfully renew a business without a permanent commitment to bring about lasting change in any of a company’s systems. This requires a strong investment of both time and money. The owner and all management levels must commit their resources to the process. Because organizational development is a way of life for an organization rather than a one-time effort, the commitment never ends.

Advantage: Employee Improvement

Employees in a company practicing OD receive ongoing training. This investment empowers employees and creates increases in productivity. In effect, through organizational development, a small business creates a workforce expertly tailored to meet its particular needs as it grows. Empowered, well-trained employees have higher morale and are better able to innovate.

Disadvantage: Resistance

People resist change. It means uncertainty and a potential weakening of a person’s position. A company’s culture and climate may exhibit inertia, also braking change. Owners must acquire the skills to overcome this resistance, relying on knowledge from the behavioral sciences -- psychology, economics, and sociology -- which are central to OD. Knowledge coupled with an understanding of the roots of employee resistance can help an owner find ways to enlist employee cooperation.

Advantage: Controls

A small business that takes an organizational development approach to business becomes a student of itself. The diagnostic phase of the OD process requires data from across the company. The data must be a mix for the owners to get a complete picture, including things such as surveys, efficiency and productivity measurements, and company financial information. After implementation of the change strategy, data collection continues as a way of monitoring the strategy’s effectiveness. The result is an owner with a thorough understanding of the company, an understanding backed up by data.

Disadvantages: Complexity

OD views a company as a system composed of interdependent sub-systems. People, technology, structure -- a change to one sub-system affects every other sub-system, and each must enact supporting changes. Assessing all the possible ramifications can overwhelm an owner, and the thoroughness required through all the developmental phases may take too long to be of use in dynamic industries. Hiring OD consultants may be a solution.