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Bringing OD to Project Management (and Project Managers into ODNE)

There are surely very few who would disagree that if a Venn diagram of change practitioners (project and programme management and business analysis in particular, for those of you who enjoy specificity) and OD were created that there would be an overlap between the circles.

The OD Foundational Competences that we’re all very familiar with, include working with change.  And even a cursory examination of an equivalent for change colleagues demonstrates the synergy, for example the Association for  Project Management lists team and relationship management, inclusion and diversity, and capability management…

However, it isn’t just the overlap that interests me; it’s also the strength of the lines themselves.

Speaking from experience as a trained PM (PRINCE2, Lean, agile), I often felt that the frameworks I operated within and the expectations attached to the various job descriptions didn’t adequately describe my skills, attributes and interests.

This was particularly acute when delivering change in people-focussed environments (HR restructures, service redesign, customer services) as opposed to more technical projects (construction, ICT solutions, finance/procurement) but even in the latter I found myself regularly arguing that delivery of the product or output itself was insufficient; that the stakeholder engagement to deliver cultural change was the critical step if clients wanted to achieve new capability, outcomes and measurable benefits.

So, for me the day I finally heard the term ‘Organisation Development’ it was like suddenly seeing the world in technicolour.  This was what I had been leaning into for so long.  And there was actually a language to describe it.  And a vast community of other practitioners with values and behaviours similar to my own and an enormous and diverse range of skills, experience, tools, models and practice.

Attending the ODNE Conference in 2022 in Chester was like coming home.  Such a welcoming and nurturing environment.  And what was particularly heartening was that I found I had something to contribute; I could add value.

And I’m not alone.  Many of my friends and colleagues in change have skills and experience that will resonate with the OD community.  I know a tremendous number of people who have enormous amounts of experience in facilitation, constructive challenge, conflict resolution, managing complexity, stakeholder engagement, practice development and more… And yet they may never have heard of Organisation Development.

I’ve been exploring this in my own network.  Through change communities of practice I have shared the OD Foundational Competences and encouraged my colleagues in project management and business analysis to consider how their discipline intersects with that of organisation development.  Many have since reached out to me to say they feel a greater affinity with OD than they do with the various change methodologies that have been their staples for so long.

And that has led me to this article.  I think there is a community adjacent to our own, which we could be tapping into.  One that will enhance our network through new people, ideas and skills.

But any idea viewed through only one prism carries the risk of bias.  And so, I have the following questions which I pose to you all…

  • What are your reflections on the above?
  • Do you feel there is an opportunity here? If so, what is it?
  • Are there any other fields that we could be reaching out to?

I want to start a small fire around which this adjacent community can gather. If you want to help, email me at or comment on the WhatsApp group.

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