What is OD?

Organisational development (OD) is a deliberately planned effort to increase an organization’s relevance and viability. Vasudevan has referred to OD as, future readiness to meet change, thus a systemic learning and development strategy intended to change the basics of beliefs, attitudes and relevance of values, and structure of the current organization to better absorb disruptive technologies, shrinking or exploding market opportunities and ensuing challenges and chaos. OD is the framework for a change process designed to lead to desirable positive impact to all stakeholders and the environment. OD can design interventions with application of several multidisciplinary methods and research besides traditional OD approaches. Wikipedia

OD is work that focuses on how an organisation functions. In essence, organisational development in higher education is about helping the HEI to harness more of its collective talents in order to succeed in its various joint endeavours: enhancing the quality of the student experience; supporting and directing the expansion and extension of the field of human knowledge and understanding; or establishing thriving enterprise ventures. The benefits from OD actions can be described in terms of an organisation’s capacity to learn and change.

MMU’s Reasons to be cheerful 1,2,3


There are many reasons for us to be cheerful here at MMU, not least just being part of good practice in action.  As its ceremony season, in reverse order 3 reasons, and examples of OD in action that I believe link nicely and highlight this include:

Reason 3; Being at the number one spot in the People and Planet League table 2013. More cause for cheerfulness came in June 2013, with MMU hitting number 1 in the People and Planet League Table 2013 of 140 universities, after rising spectacularly from 91st when the annual tables were first produced in 2007.  The annual survey audits systems, performance and attitudes to green living, with MMU scoring 59.5 out of 70.

All university buildings are strictly monitored by an energy rating scheme, while the University’s new £75million Business School and Student Hub incorporates many new green technologies including rainwater recycling, borehole cooling and heating, and the new Birley Fields campus will be zero-rated in waste, water and heating.

Vice-Chancellor Professor John Brooks said, “Sustainability has been the main driver for the £350 million rationalisation of our campuses as we can and must meet the imperatives of the present without compromising the needs of the future”

At MMU, we firmly believe that a strong ethos of sustainability not only strengthens the University’s appeal to students but improves the experience in so many different ways.”

Reason 2; In July 2013 we celebrated ‘Topping Out’ which is roughly the half-way point in the £139m campus development project Birley Fields.  Completion of the Birley Fields project will be MMU’s final step in our 7 into 2 campuses plan and £350 million capital Investment project.  The site will house the Faculties of Education and Health, Psychology and Social Care, an Energy Centre, Car Park and 1,200 student rooms arranged in Eco-Townhouses.


Reason 1; MMU being recognised as an Investors in People (IiP) Champion.

In May 2012 MMU was recognised as having achieved Gold standard in an independent review against the new choices IiP Framework.  We are the largest of only five UK Universities to have achieved ‘Gold’ level recognition and the recognition benchmarks MMU in the top 1.5% of organisations in the country.

This was closely followed in September 2012 with our recognition as an IiP Champion.  Champion status relates directly to the IiP assessment.  Champions are selected from those organisations that achieve Gold recognition with 165 or more criteria met.  In terms of involvement, IiP Champions are a prestigious group of role model organisations, in order to be accepted as a Champion we submitted an action plan detailing the steps we would take that promote the IiP framework and its benefits through best practice activities.  By achieving Champion status, MMU is committed to sharing and also learning from its experience, encouraging good practice across the region, supporting continuous improvement and development of the IiP standard.

As an organisation, we have been grappling with negative perceptions amongst staff as we have a legacy of  it not having been regarded by all as a place to be cheerful. The Vice-Chancellor has in the past mused on whether this is the ‘Manchester effect’ – where because of the constant rain Mancunians tend to be more negative!

So reasons to be cheerful, yes, yes and yes.  Through these and a range of OD interventions spanning the University, here at MMU we are now realising positive change across the organisation.  IIP Gold and Champion status has been the catalyst for cultural change.  Significantly, we have seen improvements to the extent to which people identify with the University and their pride in working here.

Working with Investors in People and especially the wider framework, you are getting to the very heart of your organisation and gaining objective feedback. It is an invaluable opportunity to make a difference to your people, your customers and your stakeholders – providing a fantastic means of developing and embedding a culture of continuous improvement.

In fulfilling our commitment to being an IiP champion organisation, if you would like to discuss any of the good practice activities shared and particularly reap the benefits, as we have done, of assessment against the IiP standard, please contact me.

Deb SnellInvestors in People   Coordinator,  Organisation Development and Training Officer

Human Resources

Manchester Metropolitan   University

E:  d.snell@mmu.ac.uk

W: http://www.mmu.ac.uk/humanresources

How serendipitous is OD?

At an earlier ODHE gathering we discussed what was meant by Organisational Development based on our understanding and practice and how that translated into individual experience. Examples of workforce planning and restructures were oft quoted, less so partnership approaches to holistic cultural change. Outputs were many and varied and no doubt all entirely relevant to specific universities and their cultures.

However, I’m still left with my musings at the time – how serendipitous is OD in practice?

odhe 1

Bettina P- giftsofserenity.com

How much does OD activity currently owe to a chance corridor meeting when a colleague shares a concern or issue?
Or a pre-committee informal chat with a couple of managers expressing their laments?
Or catch-up coffee chats when defences are down and off–the-record issues are shared?
Or an exploratory discussion with a manager wanting to tackle team behaviour, communication and/or culture issues?
How open are we to using these serendipitous accidents to use as a springboard for OD activity?
Or do we reflect on ‘normal’ activity and later claim it as OD activity?
And does any of this really matter as long as something happens??!!

And if it does matter, what makes it important to us as burgeoning or practised OD professionals?
odhe 2

Sally Wilson spent 18 years in L&D in HE before becoming a Fellow of the Staff Development Forum and an Independent Consultant to higher education on organisational, leadership & team development and coaching.

TOOLBOX: A Simple Guide to Hootsuite

In conversation with Marcus Hill, he asked for a simple guide to Hootsuite, so here we are. Hootsuite is designed to enable you to tweet, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc without having to log in and out of each account (the free account allows you to connect to up to 5 accounts, whilst there’s a charge of $5.99 per month if you choose to add more accounts). The main benefit most of you, however, are likely to enjoy, is the fact that you can pre-schedule tweets (e.g. sit down on a Monday for half-an-hour and set up several days tweets), although you will still need to check in to respond to any further engagement. Don’t forget that we earlier looked at setting up a Twitter account – please do let us know how you are using it!

Sign up for an account

Go to Hootsuite.comhootsuiteSign up through your Facebook account, or the simple instructions where it says ‘Sign Up Now’, and follow the screen prompts. Note that when you return to login, the button is just above, in the top right – so do remember your password!

Add Social Networks

The software is likely to encourage you to add a social network as you sign up, but if not/once you have set up your first account, you can add further by looking to top-left and ‘Add Social Network’


This will give you access to the following social networks, so click on the one you want to use: addsocnet

If using Twitter, log in to authorise the account, so that it can post whilst you are off doing other things: authorise

The Dashboard


You can add up to 10 ‘streams’ per account. For Twitter, dy default the first will be the usual Twitter feed you would see on Twitter, the second your ‘mentions’ (where others have used your user name in a tweet), your ‘Direct Message’ inbox and outbox, sent items. You can then add streams tied to hashtags, which is incredibly useful for conferences.

Set Tweets

This is an incredibly simple process (so long as you remember that shorter is sweeter!). write-a-messageSimply start typing in the box, tick for the appropriate social network(s) (don’t default to all social networks, think about the different audiences you have for each). Most of the time this may be all you want but:

  1. Link: Simply copy and paste a long link from elsewhere on the ‘net, press ‘Shrink’, and a shortened link will be included.
  2. Clip: Add a Photo/File (from your hard-drive, although if you’re using this as an app on the phone, straight from the phone).
  3. Schedule posts: I quite often use the ‘Autoschedule’ function, and it spaces them out as it deems appropriate. Otherwise choose a date/time, and press schedule.
  4. Location: Click if you want your location added to a tweet (especiallygood if you’re somewhere exotic!)
  5. Privacy: Works on networks such as Facebook which have different privacy settings, e.g. show just friends/work colleagues.

Checking What You’ve Scheduled

Look to the left-hand menu for ‘Publisher’:

publisherClick and see what you’ve got set (the icons indicate the different accounts):


Is there more?

There’s always more in these apps, but the above information should keep you going for most of what you want. Don’t be afraid to poke around and experiment, knowing that you can always return to ‘Stream’ to read/post, and check out the Hootsuite ‘Help‘ if required.

Corporate Social Responsibility and OD

We have just completed our Green Impact project at Westminster. Some of you may be aware of Green Impact. Some of you may be in a team at your own university. None of you will run it from your OD team, so why do we? I think Green Impact is the purest and most basic example of change behaviour you are likely to find. It asks people to start the process of change with simple actions; print double sided, turn off your pc, turn out the light (check someone isn’t in the room at the time or you get shouted at!) It is one strand of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme and I will be writing more about how our OD team is managing, measuring and promoting CSR over the next few months. In the meantime here are some of our Green Impact participants:

Social Media Wordle

Calling All Luddites!

In responding to the challenges which face anyone working with technology it is worth noting things haven’t always been as they are now. When reminiscing at the recent ODHE conference in Windermere on items of technology and working practices which have long since passed into history books, we discussed typing pools to write our letters. This made it unnatural to write to colleagues when picking up the phone was a far more attractive proposition. However, given the pace of modern life and the expectations for fast response time, the e mail has become indispensable. Our conclusion was that adjustments we have made will continue with the introduction of new ways of working such as social media, twitter and, yes, even blogging. Progress stops for no-one. The original description of a Luddite may not quite fit modern day dilemmas. Luddites were artisans who protested against the newly-developed labour-saving textile machinery; the stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution (1811-1817,) which made it possible to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite. The modern day “Luddite” doesn’t have the luxury to resist the information revolution which has swept across the globe. The proliferation of communications technologies continues unabated. But it doesn’t stop us from questioning the relational effects of e-mailing someone at the next desk, cautious and sensible adoption is the key!

Marcus Hill, Senior Staff Development Adviser, University of Leeds

Charlotte Croffie, Organisation and Staff Development Consultant, UCL


Social Media and OD

Like/UnlikeWhat has challenged you?

Keeping interest levels in twitter as other initiatives take over. I liked the idea of auto-tweets, so I could write 20 in tweets advance and get the computer to do it for me. But the necessary download costs money and there is currently no budget for it. Social media generally – we have a new University policy on this, which is being embedded currently so I will need to understand/stick to these guidelines.

How have you developed?

Much more aware of twitter and blogs. Someone mentioned they ‘lurk’ on twitter. I feel that way – I am in the background as it isn’t a prominent facet of our marketing (although may become in the future?) I admire colleagues who make it a central facet of what they do. For me to tweet or follow another tweeter (is that the right term?!) then the information has to serve a purpose – educating, informing, debating, putting new perspectives etc.

What have you enjoyed?

I liked the conference. I like learning about new technologies which can be applied to learning and staff development.

What more do you feel you could learn?

The most useful things was following Bex on twitter and watching how she tweeted during the conference in Windermere. It is about the “art of the possible” – I can learn best from watching how people use social media for firm beneficial advantages to their institutions.

Marcus Hill, Senior Staff Development Adviser, University of Leeds

Charlotte Croffie, Organisation and Staff Development Consultant, UCL