Cover Page

William J. Rothwell

Jacqueline M. Stavros

Roland L. Sullivan


Practicing Organization Development

Leading Transformation and Change


Fourth Edition


Title Page

William J. Rothwell dedicates this book to his wife Marcelina, his son Froilan, his daughter Candice, and his grandsons Aden and Gabriel.

Jacqueline M. Stavros dedicates this book to her husband Paul, her children Ally and Adam, her parents, students, her colleagues in the Appreciative Inquiry field, and her Lawrence Tech family, who provide unconditional support and guidance.

Roland L. Sullivan dedicates this book to his daughter Arielle, his brother Thomas, and centric mentors: Dr. Sivananda of Rishikesh, Dr. Jack Gibb, Richard Beckhard, Dr. Bob Tannenbaum, Ms. Kathleen Dannemiller, and Dr. David Cooperrider.


List of Figures, Tables, and Exhibits


  1. Figure 1.1. A Model of a System
  2. Figure 2.1. Origins of OD Timeline
  3. Figure 3.1. The Traditional Action Research Model
  4. Figure 3.2. AI 4-D Model
  5. Figure 3.3. Action Research Model
  6. Figure 3.4. Sullivan Rothwell Change Process Model
  7. Figure 3.5. Organization Development Effectiveness Model™
  8. Figure 4.1. Three Types of Change
  9. Figure 4.2. The Journey of Transformation
  10. Figure 4.3. The Change Leader's Roadmap (CLR)
  11. Figure 4.4. The Change Leader's Roadmap Activity Level
  12. Figure 4.5. Conscious Change Leader Accountability Model
  13. Figure 6.1. AI 5-D Cycle
  14. Figure 6.2. Strengths-Based Revolution for Positive OD
  15. Figure 7.1. Example of Competency Statement within a Conceptual Framework
  16. Figure 8.1. Three Areas and Four Conditions for Value
  17. Figure 8.2. The “Gravity” Concept of Marketing OD Services
  18. Figure 8.3. Conceptual Agreement as the Key to Closing New Business
  19. Figure 10.1. Change Process for a University's Transformation
  20. Figure 11.1. The Paradox of Competing Demands in Evaluation
  21. Figure 11.2. Fifteen Situational Evaluation Strategies
  22. Figure 11.3. Question Series #1—Choosing an Evaluation Strategy
  23. Figure 11.4. Question Series #2—Choosing an Evaluation Strategy
  24. Figure 11.5. Trend of Incident-Free Days
  25. Figure 12.1. Prosci® Change Measurement Framework™
  26. Figure 12.2. Prosci® Change Measurement Scorecard™
  27. Figure 16.1. Balancing Innovation and Execution Skills
  28. Figure 17.1. Model of a Large System
  29. Figure 18.1. SOAR Framework and 5-I Approach
  30. Figure 20.1. The Star Model
  31. Figure 20.2. The Organization Design Process
  32. Figure 22.1. OD and CM: Overlap and Dimensions of Difference
  33. Figure 23.1. The Positive Deviance Continuum
  34. Figure 24.1. Compliance as the Moral Minimum
  35. Figure 25.1. Group Dynamics
  36. Figure 26.1. The Judging versus Joining Continuum
  37. Figure 26.2. 4 Keys that Change EVERYTHING
  38. Figure 26.3. Guide to Notions, Stakes, Boulders, and Tombstones
  39. Figure 31.1. Contrasting Polar Ideal Types: Diagnostic and Dialogic Mindsets


  1. Table 5.1. Values Listing
  2. Table 5.2. Leadership Competencies to Effectively Lead Change
  3. Table 6.1. Five Emergent AI Principles
  4. Table 6.2. Principles of Strengths-based Approaches and Implications for Positive OD
  5. Table 7.1. The OD Process: Section-by-Section Analysis
  6. Table 7.2. Self as Instrument: Pooled-Item Analysis Results
  7. Table 18.1. SOAR's Application in Types of Organizations and Global Growth
  8. Table 20.1. Sample Problem Statement
  9. Table 29.1. Power Bases
  10. Table 29.2. Power Strategies
  11. Table 31.1. Examples of Dialogic OD Methods
  12. Table 32.1. Sample Emerging Practice Areas Influencing the Future of OD
  13. Table 33.1. The Relevance and Future of OD


  1. Exhibit 8.1. The Rainmaker Attributes
  2. Exhibit 10.1. Fundamentals of Building Successful Organizations
  3. Exhibit 10.2. Organization Assessment Process
  4. Exhibit 10.3. Organization Assessment Methods
  5. Exhibit 10.4. Action-Planning Process
  6. Exhibit 10.5. Roles in Successfully Managing Change
  7. Exhibit 10.6. Implementation
  8. Exhibit 10.7. Why People Resist Change and Overcoming Resistance to Change
  9. Exhibit 18.1. PCD Planning Process Agenda
  10. Exhibit 18.2. Discovering the Best of our PCD Team (Interview Questions)
  11. Exhibit 18.3. SOAR: Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results


No book is the product of its editor or authors alone. This book is no different. Creating a fourth edition takes a great deal of time, effort, depth of conversations, and flurries of emails with many people. Accordingly, we would especially like to thank the editorial, design, and production team at John Wiley & Sons for their support of this project, especially Matt Davis (Acquiring Editor), who has provided direction and answered our questions for each and every edition. We also enjoyed working with Heather Brosius and Tiffany Colon (Editorial Assistants), Abirami Srikandan (Production Editor), Becky Morgan (Manufacturing Manager), and Paul McCarthy (Cover Designer) on this edition.

We are tremendously grateful to our contributing authors for their willingness to write their chapters and respond to our repeated requests for revisions and proper citations with references. The array of authors provides a wealth of history, present moments, and future possibilities of OD since the 1950s. It has been an honor to work with them! Thank you to Lou Carter, who has made many contributions to the field of OD and took the time to write the Foreword for the fourth edition, capturing the success, changes, and challenges of the field especially in this edition as it relates to transformation.

A special thank you to family and friends who provided backup reviews and edits to our chapter reviews as the deadline came to a close. These include Jae Young Lee, Paul Stavros, and Aileen Zaballero. We would also like to give special thanks to Ally Stavros, who once again provided devoted assistance to double-checking citations, formatting, and references for each chapter.

And, we thank our families and friends for their support and patience during the long writing and editing hours especially during the holidays.


Organization Development: Transforming the Whole Organization to Thrive, Perform, Achieve Goals, and Grow Sustainably

Louis Carter
Founder and CEO
Best Practice Institute
West Palm Beach, FL

Since 1998, Best Practice Institute has released its top best practice organization development (OD) programs highlighting the most admired and innovative companies around the world. Topping the 2014 best practice leaders are the global brands of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Cigna, Hilton Worldwide, QBE, Baxalta, Tyco, MasterCard, Thomson Reuters, and BlackRock, among others. These are all globally recognized leaders in their respective industries and represent organizations whose employees report high levels of job satisfaction, are convinced of their management's credibility, and enjoy strong ties to their companies' culture, goals, vision, and operating philosophy.

Each of these companies have created both a corporate culture of transforming and thriving through their strong sense of community and loyalty among their workforce that extends to their business and community partners, customers, and shareholders. Their employees have become partners with their companies, and as such, are invested in their companies' ongoing success and empowered to be innovative and forward-thinking. Furthermore, the companies' enthusiasm and dedication are recognized by potential stakeholders who desire to partner with thriving companies.

A defining factor in the accomplishments of these companies is their focus on development—the ongoing process of innovation and improvement—whether it be a product, process, policy, or person. Today's business strategists must be mindful not just of product growth, but of the importance of planned, careful OD, transformation, and change.

While the concepts of OD and change are not new, it has become even more important in today's globalized, competitive environment as organizations are required to quickly adapt to evolving marketplace pressures, streamline global supply chain processes, adopt technological advances, and compete for the best and brightest talent to perform and sustain themselves.

Unfortunately, many business executives still do not take full advantage of OD and fail to understand how to make a positive impact for every stakeholder. By understanding the foundation, theories, practices, and processes of successful OD, internal and external OD practitioners can help their companies to identify avenues for successful transformation; this planned process ultimately results in the very successes identified by the employees, partners, and customers of Best Practice Institute's best practice organizations.

In exploring various models of OD and frameworks for effecting improved organizational performance, Practicing Organization Development has been a strategic resource for business leaders, HR professionals, process consultants, trainers, and researchers since the first edition was first published in 1995. The new, fourth edition of the book continues this tradition, providing insight into exciting new voices in the field of OD and change. The new edition also introduces the concept of transformation, because many organizations are looking for those who fundamentally understand and can lead transformation.

The enduring popularity of Practicing Organization Development among OD practitioners and scholars owes to its reach beyond the typical business casebook; it is designed from proven OD theories and practical application as well as focused on current and future challenges and implications of the OD field.

Over 50 internationally recognized OD practitioners and scholars have contributed their knowledge and expertise to the fourth edition. This new edition signals a period of the importance of transformational change and leadership that has been recognized in today's global environment. For the fourth edition, new contributors bring relevant insights on their research and practices that apply specifically to the twenty-first-century challenges that OD professionals face today. This new edition will help the readers:

The fourth edition also includes a comprehensive consideration of practical applications and special issues such as:

The final section of this new edition takes an in-depth look into dialogic OD, a review of five future implications for the practices of OD, transformation, and change, and wraps up with a contributor survey of the most critical elements of OD issues today. Also new for this edition is the inclusion of online resources and a set of discussion questions located at the end of each chapter.

Readers of this new edition will note the focus on transformation. Transformation poses unique challenges for OD leaders in that we must now find ways to transfer this new knowledge and development to the workplace so that we can develop specific goals and measure results. We must redefine our role to include stewarding the process of metrics and measurements—all measurements and metrics—including sales, customer service, profit margin, and growth metrics. Our goals should be tied to these metrics and lead change in the areas of sales, operations, and customer service departments, and connect directly to what each is responsible for.

Indeed, this is no easy task, but without these linkages, there are no measurable results. Without measurable results, there can be no OD. We must create and achieve a common mental model and understanding of how we connect to these results.

I would like to recognize the editors' visionary contributions to amass in one book the best as well as the most complete and practical set of materials for anyone wanting to learn more about OD and how to lead change. This latest edition continues to serve as the best primer for OD, defining what it is, what to do, how to do it, and why it should be done—in addition to offering more contributions and applications with meaningful and measurable impacts, more evidence of positive impacts of transformational change, and new insights. The resources provided are a rich companion to anyone engaged or wanting to become engaged in OD. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter allow you to reflect and discuss how to understand and move forward with this wealth of information.

No matter what your experience in OD, I expect that you will want to reference this book again and again. Armed with this resource, you can work with your organizations to create systemic approaches to whole system planned change that truly leaves the organization stronger and healthier to embrace and anticipate the future. As the future unfolds in our global complex environment, the focus of OD is on human values and potential in organizational life.

I wish you great health, strength, and courage to connect to business goals as you continue your practice in OD, transformation, and change.