Organizational Development and Culture Transformation

By: Enrique Abadesco

WE ARE in the age of the “unthinkable”, the era of volatile and unpredictable change & a world where the new rule is that there are no constant rules. In such a world, organizations, in order to survive & prosper, need to transform towards a shared sense of the future, an agile & proactive mindset & people who are prepared to create rather than wait for the future. In such an environment, adaptability, creativity and speed are the pathways to survival and success. Organizations, therefore need to be constantly self-transforming, even to the extent of creating new rules for effectiveness & success.

In this article, I will share an approach which will facilitate a whole systems transformation to prepare an organization to be future-ready

Organization Development in the 21st Century
An emerging discipline called Organization Development is an approach that aims to develop and align organizational capabilities to support corporate growth. I had the privilege of growing professionally with this discipline and I would view Organization Development (OD) as a philosophy and a strategy of leveraging the power of organization purpose, processes and people to develop the internal capabilities required to sustain the value creation process of the enterprise amidst the realities of constant changes.

Creating an adaptive, learning organization is a key capability for surviving in today’s fast-changing environment. An adaptive learning organization consists of three interacting core components: 1) Purpose; 2) Processes; 3) People.

Successful organizations are driven by clear, inspiring and shared meaning as to its basic purpose, mission and values.

The component of Purpose refers not only to written documents on vision, mission and core values which man companies post on their walls but more importantly to a shared mindset of every member of the organization on its strategic directions and priorities. These strategic directions, when fully internalized, guide members of the organization to effective behaviors and outcomes.

Processes on the other hand, are the execution enablers translating the strategic directions towards sustained and consistent results.

The third component, People, is the key to making the two aforementioned components. Work. The power of the people component lies on the quality and commitment of employees of the firm, energized by its leadership & people policies.

Integrating these three components in a way that initiatives commitment and embeds these capabilities into the overall competence of the organizational is the challenge of the OD practice. Specifically these organizational capabilities may consist if the following: inspiring leadership, flawless customer service, a shared mindset on mission and values, a learning and customer-driven culture, among others.

Whole System Transformation
In this article, I will share a summary of a ten-step OD methodology for Whole System Transformation (WST) developed by Roland Sullivan. It is derived from his experiences over the last 40 years with over 1,000 organizations, ranging from 100 to 140,000 employees. I would like to acknowledge the kind permission given by Sullivan and his associate, Mary Jane B. Balasi to edit their article published in Development and Learning Organizations of Emerald Insight and selected by its editorial board as the Outstanding Paper of 2014.

Essential 1. Build Internal Change Agent Capability
A highly competent Internal Change Agent (ICA) using a proven OD methodology is key. He / she is positioned to facilitate the change process while the executive leadership controls the content.
The external WST consultant provides coaching to transfer the knowledge to the internal change agent. The external consultant works with the client system ICA and senior leaders to set up the structure process, and political relationships to support change.

Essential 2. Transform the Executive Team
The first intervention in a whole system transformation effort ideally focuses on the CEO’s team. The Executive Team defines the process that will be used to transform the whole system under them. In order to achieve this, the Executive Team must be transformed first i.e. have one brain and one heart, which sets the tone for system-wide change.
Modeling change at the top has the best chance of inspiring the rest to embrace change and gain trust and commitment. Each executive in the top team must transform themselves, as well as the executive team’s effectiveness as a group, for system-wide change to happen. This helps them understand the way they relate intra-personally, to each other, the system and others.

Essential 3. Develop the Transformation Design Team
One of the executive team retreat is to draft the purpose and outcomes for the three day paradigm-shifting summit of 300 to 1000 people.
A design team of 8 to 15 people is appointed to create a detailed agenda, producing compelling workplace learning. The external WST consultant provides a team development process and guides the group in its design work.

In sum, WST is a complex OD journey made simple by practices and theories developed and integrated into a single approach that enables and empowers human talent in organizations to accomplish faster, cheaper, and sustainable positive change. It involves and engages the entire system, allowing ownership of the process (people support what they co-create), suggesting the solutions, and focusing on an aligned rather than segmented change. – See more (Source) at:

About the Author: 

Enrique “Ric” Abadesco is considered a pioneer in the organization development (OD) field in the Philippines, having headed the first formal OD unit of San Miguel Corporation during the company’s transformative years. He was Senior Vice President of San Miguel Corporation and for over ten years, was an expatriate executive of the giant petroleum company, Exxon Mobil Corporation in HongKong, Singapore, Belgium and the United States.  Ric was a lecturer at the Manila MBA program of the University of Western Australia, the Masters in Quality and Productivity Program of the Development Academy of the Philippines and is the Managing Principal of OrgTransformation Consultants, a strategic consulting firm operating in the Philippines and Asia Pacific. Ric was recently elected to the Asian Productivity Organization’s roster of Certified Productivity Practitioners (CPP). He holds the rank of Diplomate, conferred by the Society of Fellows in Personnel Management of which he is the current president. He is a past President of the People Management Association of the Philippines.

– See more (Source) at:

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